Debenham department store experienced a strong December and growth in online operations

Although group like-for-like sales for the 18 weeks to the 7 January 2012 remained flat, the department store experienced a strong December and growth in its online operations.

Group gross transaction value for the 18 weeks to 7 January compared to the same time a year before increased by 0.5 per cent, with group like-for-like sales up 1.4 per cent including VAT.

Debenhams’ online business managed to deliver another strong performance for the retailer, with like-for-like sales rising 34.8 per cent over that time.

The company cited difficult trading conditions and warmer weather in October and November as the main restrictions on its sales growth for that period. Compared to the autumn, December trading was ‘notably stronger’ with a 6.5 per cent growth, including VAT, in group like-for-like sales in the five weeks to 31 December.

Michael Sharp, Chief Executive of Debenhams, said:

"I am pleased with this performance. We traded well despite the difficult environment as evidenced by strong sales in December, including record sales in the final week before Christmas.

"Looking forward, we are cautious about the strength of the economy and its impact on consumer behaviour over the remainder of the financial year. We will continue to manage the business tightly with an ongoing emphasis on cost and margin management. We are confident that the design, quality and value offered by our spring/summer 2012 product ranges will find favour with customers and expect to see some benefit from lower input prices in the second half of the year."

The department store opened one new outlet in Newbury during the 18 weeks taking its total to 170 stores in the UK, Ireland and Denmark. Along with this, two new international franchise stores were also opened, both in the Philippines, giving a total of 66 stores in 25 countries.

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