Profits set to rise at Debenhams

Department store group Debenhams said today it expected to report improved market share and profits following the Christmas and New Year period.

Department store group Debenhams said today it expected to report improved market share and profits following the Christmas and New Year period.

The forecast came as the group – acquired by a consortium of private equity companies for £1.7bn (€2.4bn) in December 2003 – provided figures for the 13 weeks to November 27 showing an 8% rise in turnover to £518.5m (€745.1m).

Debenhams said all its product categories had performed well during the period, with demand for its Designers at Debenhams range particularly strong.

It was also helped by initiatives to improve its supply chain, as the company was better able to keep shelves stocked and introduce newer products.

With like-for-like sales up 6%, Debenhams said trading profits for the autumn showed a 42.8% improvement to £57.1m (€82.1m).

Chief executive Rob Templeman said sales and profits for the three months since November 27 were expected to show an improvement, with market share also up after the retailer “continued to trade strongly against the competition”.

Industry research recently put the company’s share of the department store sector at 15.8%.

Mr Templeman said plans were also in place to speed up the group’s store refit programme, which saw three recent refurbishments – at Scarborough, Crawley and Folkestone – produce good returns.

A £6m (€8.6m) project to improve Debenhams’ flagship store on London’s Oxford Street is about to get under way.

Mr Templeman added: “This, together with our store opening programme and supply chain initiatives, makes us very confident about the growth potential of the group.”

Debenhams currently has 107 outlets but could open up to 20 more over the next four years. It is also planning a trial of new mini-Debenhams stores in towns not big enough to feature a full-size outlet.

Debenhams was acquired by CVC Capital Partners, Texas Pacific Group and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity.

Today’s results for the 13 weeks to November 27 also showed the new owners improved profits to £61.1m (€87.8m), compared with £15.4m (€22.1m), although this partly reflected the impact of property transactions.

Debenhams has a store in Dublin's Jervis Street Shopping Centre, and will be a tenant in the new Mahon Point development in Cork.

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