Debenhams to open 17 stores as sales pick up

Kasmira Jefford
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DEBENHAMS yesterday revealed it is to open 17 UK stores next year and announced its first Christmas campaign in six years as the department store group posted a 1.6 per cent rise in like-for-like sales.

Chief executive Michael Sharp said the group plans to lure shoppers and bolster sales during the crucial Christmas trading period with a television, print and online advertising campaign, launching next month.

The announcement came as the retailer, which ranks behind rival John Lewis in terms of annual sales, reported a 4.2 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to £158.3m in the year to 1 September.

“The overall performance for the year was a very creditable performance given how challenging it was,” said Sharp, adding that the group had also grabbed market share from rivals across all categories, particularly in the 12 weeks to 2 September.

“Gains in women’s clothing were particularly pleasing because that market is notoriously competitive,” he said.

The group revamped 18 of its core UK stores in 2012 and aims to refurbish a further 30 this coming year, including its flagship site on Oxford Street. It aims to open 17 stores over the next five years, which could generate £150m worth of sales.

Sharp said yesterday that Debenhams UK presence was still “immature” and said there were a total of 70 markets it has targeted for new openings in the future.