On Debenhams, Stephen Springham, Senior Retail Analyst, Planet Retail, commented:
“A year of two halves: a pretty horrible, sales-chasing first half (which saw the business issue a profit warning on New Year’s Eve, prompting the exit of CFO Simon Herrick), followed by a more measured H2, with a strong focus on tight stock and gross margin control, fewer promotions and better multi-channel execution. Sales growth in the second half-year is likely to have been less spectacular, but the underlying financial health of the business somewhat the better for it.
“The slow process of weaning itself off promotions is taking root. The summer clearance sale started a couple of weeks later this year and the transition to fewer promotional events appears not to have unduly alienated customers. But the acid test will be in the coming weeks in the run-up to Christmas. Rivals Next and John Lewis have already declared that fashion sales in the early part of the Autumn/Winter trading season have been completely derailed by the Indian summer. While an unusually mild September may have been welcomed by the UK populace at large, spare a thought for fashion retailers trying to peddle jumpers and outerwear.
“Although outside this reporting period (which relates to the 12 months to the end of August), Debenhams will not be immune to the impact of this desperately slow start to the Autumn/Winter season. This will put pressure on its move to a full-price model, but should not totally undermine its ambitions. With sales likely to be behind schedule, a major test of nerve awaits over the next couple of months.”
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Stephen is available for further comment and can be contacted on +44 (0)20 7715 6464 or via e-mail at email@example.com
Robyn Ashman, Global Marketing Director
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7715 6021; E-mail: Robyn.Ashman@Planetretail.net