Department store chain Debenhams will launch next day delivery in 2013 to help drive online sales.

The fastest it can deliver currently is four working days, while rivals John Lewis and House of Fraser already offer next day delivery

Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said the initiative would help move it closer to achieving its target of £500m online sales in the next three years.

He said: “Customers buy if they have more ways to ship and we can get it to them quicker. We’re trying to offer more flexibility in terms of delivery windows and will have next day delivery by next spring.”

The retailer’s online sales, which now account for 9% of its overall sales, jumped 34.9% over the 16 weeks to June 23.

Debenhams has been improving its fulfilment over the past few years to further push its online operation. It launched ‘Endless Aisle’ earlier this year which makes stock in-store available for online shoppers. The move is designed not only to increase takings but to cut markdowns.

The department store posted strong overall sales growth in the 16 week period. Like-for-likes, excluding VAT, jumped 3.1% driven by handbag and accessories and beauty.

Sharp said that higher margin clothing sales had been affected by the unseasonably wet weather although he insists it grabbed market share in womenswear.