Debenhams will launch an outlet store online on Monday, allowing customers all-year-round access to products at prices up to 70 per cent cheaper than in its stores.
The site, which can be accessed via the main Debenhams.com website, includes ranges across all categories – 92 per cent of which can be found in stores – at discounts starting at 25 per cent off. It follows the development of a string of outlet websites from retailers including Net-a-Porter, Jaeger and JD Sports.
Debenhams Direct head David Worby said the move was in response to “a change in shopper behaviour”. “The brand has gained market share in tough times. The online offer is mapping to the ongoing desire for our products.”
Worby added that the site will allow the retailer to clear stock effectively but was not a response to high terminal stock levels.“The site’s launch was actually delayed because terminal stocks have been tightened,” he said.
Debenhams, whose Blue Cross Sale ends on Sunday, has previously been criticised for its heavy promotional schedule. However, the store revealed an upbeat set of results at its first-half trading update last month and said gross margins were flat on last year.
Online shoppers to Debenhams’ outlet site can buy end of line stock from ranges including its Designers at Debenhams collection and products not available in stores such as furniture and electricals.
Worby said the site would allow shoppers to search for discounted items by size as well as price.
He declined to provide sales or visitor targets for the site or details of the present performance of Debenhams.com as the retailer is in a closed period and will update on its interims on Thursday.
However, Worby said that indications are that the outlet site will be “well-visited” following the launch of a skeleton site, named Blue Cross, which was used during the Blue Cross Sale period.
“The limit on sales opportunity is one of how much Sale stock we have left over,” he said.
In the 18 weeks to January 3, Debenhams Direct recorded year-to-date visitor numbers and sales up 39.2 and 37.4 per cent respectively.