Debenhams has revealed that like-for-like sales at the department store chain were impacted by the snow in December but added that it had notched up market share gains across the board.
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Debenhams said that group like-for-like sales in the 19 weeks to January 8 were negatively impacted by between 2.5% and 3% because of the snow in the run up to Christmas.
During the period, like-for-like sales rose slightly by 0.3% including VAT and dropped by 1.3% excluding VAT.
The department store made market share gains in womenswear for the first time since it began the conversion of about 500,000 sq ft of its space to own brand product in September 2009. Womenswear market share rose by 10 basis points according to data from Kantar Worldpanel Fashion for the 24 weeks to October 31.
Total market share rose by 10 basis points with menswear and kidswear notching up a 30 basis point and 20 basis point increase respectively.
Group gross margin remained ahead of last year during the 19 weeks. Debenhams cited its strategy of increasing the mix of own-bought merchandise and its focus on margin management.
Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman said the department store’s performance had been “pleasing”. “We have made good progress in terms of both gross margin and market share and I am particularly pleased that our market share in women’s clothing has begun to demonstrate growth,” he said.
He added: “Looking forward, we are cautious about the robustness of consumer sentiment for the remainder of the financial year. Despite this, we have a clear strategy of self-help initiatives which focus on gross margin management, driving market share and growth through expansion and investment which we believe will enable Debenhams to continue to make progress over the coming months.”
The retailer said its stock levels remained “firmly under control” and it forecasted that terminal stocks would be at an all-time low at the end of the first half.
Debenhams Direct and the department store’s in-store ordering service recorded a sales increase of 88.5% during the 19 week period.
Its Danish department store Magasin du Nord reported like-for-likes up 11.5% on a Danish kronor basis, a 5.5% rise in sterling.
It opened a department store in Bath in September and is set to open a further two in the remainder of the financial year; a department store in Wakefield and a fashion-only Desire store in Fareham.
A new franchise store opened in Yerevan in Armenia and the department store will open 100 more franchise stores in the medium term.
During the period, Debenhams launched an app for the iPhone and an online video format called Debenhams TV as well as self-service kiosks to improve availability and ranging for instore customers.
On November 30, Debenhams repaid £150m of debt and cancelled its existing £806m bank facility and drew on its £650m forward start facility negotiated in July 2010.
The new facility includes a £400m revolving credit facility that allows the group to manage working capital efficiently and minimise interest costs of borrowings held alongside surplus cash.