Clothing downturn Debenham's sales

Department store chain Debenhams said today that underlying sales fell over the festive period after a weak performance for its clothing ranges.

Department store chain Debenhams said today that underlying sales fell over the festive period after a weak performance for its clothing ranges.

The group posted a like-for-like sales fall of 4% in the nine weeks to 13 January, although sales were up 6.3% when new trading space is included.

Debenhams said sales of clothes were “lower than expected” and warned that this, together with the impact of integrating the recently acquired Roche stores in Ireland, would knock its rate of profitability at the half year.

The sales news will not surprise the City, with some analysts predicting in early December that Debenhams might be forced to issue a profits warning.

Debenhams reported in mid-December that underlying sales were down 4.7% in the seven weeks to December 10 as it grappled with the mild weather.

Rob Templeman, chief executive of Debenhams, said: “The market remains challenging and we are cautious about the out-turn for the rest of the financial year.”

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