Debenhams defies retail gloom

DEBENHAMS said yesterday it would meet forecasts for the year’s profit as it defied the general gloom in the retail sector with a jump in second-half sales.

The company said that consumers were still buying “treat” items like cosmetics while childrenswear was also performing well.

Debenhams, currently led by Rob Templeman (pictured), said sales at stores open more than a year, excluding VAT, were up 1.5 per cent in the 17 weeks to 25 June.

Deputy chief exec Michael Sharp, who replaces Templeman in the autumn, said: “We are very pleased with the figures. Cosmetics have been selling well and also men’s clothes, which is surprising as when times are tough those sales usually go down.”

The store said it had kicked its summer sale off a few days early but that trading had been resilient.

On the international front Sharp said the Middle East had been strong, with its Danish Magasin Du Nord also producing positive figures.

He added: “The Middle East has been very strong for us. We have always emphasised the importance of our international reach.”

On the rising prices of raw material costs, especially cotton, Sharp said that customers could expect an average five per cent price rise across all product ranges.