• Like-for-like sales slide 0.2% in the retailer’s third quarter
  • Online sales up 7% over the period
  • Weak performance in clothing since the new year 

Debenhams has reported a 0.2% fall in its third-quarter like-for-likes after weak fashion sales, but online and non-clothing purchases rose.

On a constant currency basis, like-for-likes in the 15 weeks to June slid 1.6%, the department store chain said.

Group gross transaction value rose by 0.5% in the period. 

Debenhams said the UK trading enviroment had beeen weaker since the start of 2016, particularly in clothing.

Howevert the retailer said health and beauty products sold well over the period and online sales continued to rise, up 7% over the period.

Looking ahead, Debenhams said “despite volatility in the trading environment” it expects 2016 profits to meet forecasts. 

Outgoing chief executive Michael Sharp said: “Our strategy remains unchanged, with further progress in driving our non-clothing mix, continuing to improve service for multi-channel customers, and offering a wider choice of products and services in under-optimised space.

“In response to more uncertain trading conditions in this period, particularly in clothing, we have focused on managing stock and margins and generating cash.”

Mobile sales now comprise over half the retailer’s online orders and click and collect purchases rose 19%.

The retailer will roll out 18 more Jack & Jones concessions by October and plans to launch Claire’s Accessories concessions across 15 stores as part of its ongoing strategy to diversify its product offer.

New chief exec

The department store retailer has appointed Amazon’s European fashion boss, Sergio Bucher, as its new chief executive to help drive its turnaround effort.

Bucher will take over the role in October. Current boss Michael Sharp delivered Debenhams first rise in full-year profits and sales in four years last October.

“I am confident that I am leaving the business in the hands of a very strong management team, who will continue to execute our strategy and support our new CEO, Sergio Bucher, through the next phase of Debenhams’ development,” said Sharp.

“Our wide product choice, clear destination departments and improving service proposition gives us a strong platform from which to deliver long-term sustainable growth.”