Debenhams is to boost its own-label childrenswear offer and double its home accessories range.
The department store group – whose management was praised by City observers this week for performing well in a difficult market – is set to introduce an own-label, everyday childrenswear brand.

“There is an opportunity for us to make a quantum leap in childrenswear,” Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman told Retail Week. At present, Debenhams has a 2.6 per cent market share in the category.

The retailer will also double its Designers at Debenhams range of home accessories for spring/summer 2009. Templeman said the existing range was performing “strongly” and provides their customers witha point of “differentiation” from other, more commoditised homewares offers.
Debenhams is focusing on driving sales and guarding margins by implementing improvements to its own-brand product. “Product and ranging is at the heart of all our decision-making,” said Templeman.

The department store group’s full-year results revealed a 16 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to£110 million, in line with expectations.
Sales including concessions climbed 1.3 per cent to£2.3 billion, a like-for-like fall of 0.9 per cent. 72 per cent of sales during the year to August 30 were generated by Debenhams’ own-labels.

The retailer, which halved its full-year dividend and outlined plans to slash its£994 million debt, will continue to spend on new stores.
Forty stores are yet to be refitted but the management plans to complete the programme within the next two to three years, depending on the economic climate.

Like-for-like sales fell further in the six weeks to October 11, when they slipped 4.2 per cent as worries about the economy frightened shoppers.