REPORT_ Debenhams during the 19 weeks to January 10, 2015, delivered a strong performance in the key Christmas period: four weeks to 10 January with like-for-like sales increasing 4.9 percent and online sales witnessing a 28.9 percent growth. The company also reported record Group sales in the seven days prior to Christmas and good performance on Black Friday within an existing Debenhams promotional event with sales in the week moving up 10.3 percent and online orders on the day up 125 percent.
Commenting on the strong trading season, Michael Sharp, Chief Executive of Debenhams, said, “I am pleased with our performance in the critical Christmas trading weeks, driven by our strength in a diverse range of product categories and a strong marketing campaign focused on gifting. Our performance steadily improved following the well documented challenges in the clothing market in the autumn.”
Performance in the seven weeks to January 10 improved with group like-for-like sales increasing by 2.4 percent and online sales increasing by 11.7 percent. The company continued to see good growth from international franchise stores, especially in the Middle East and South East Asia. It opened three new international stores including a flagship store in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Magasin du Nord delivered another strong performance with like-for-like sales increasing by 9.2 percent in local currency for the four weeks.
Demand for Click & Collect increased during the Christmas period and in the final days peaked at 38 percent of online orders. A strong performance from lower margin categories through the period such as beauty and some concession brands combined with a challenging season in clothing, the company expects gross margin towards the lower end of guidance of over 10 to over 40 basis points for the year as a whole. With tight cost control during the period, the company anticipates full year guidance at the lower end of the 2 percent to 4 percent increase as previously guided.