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Debenhams reports online growth after improving customer services

Debenhams today reported a double digit rise in online sales over the spring after it took action to improve its service.

Ecommerce sales, said the department store group in today’s trading statement, grew by 16.7% in the 15 weeks to June 13, compared to the same time last year. Over the 41 weeks to the same date, online sales were up by 13.9%. That growth, said Debenhams, a Leading company in the IRUK 500 research, was driven by improvements to its offer which included lower delivery charges and the way goods are presented.

The figures contrast with like-for-like sales, over the same period, which were flat over 15 weeks and grew by 0.9% over 41 weeks. Debenhams said its overall sales performance, which also saw gross transaction values up by 0.4% over 15 weeks and 1.7% over 41 weeks, was affecting by a change to the timing of its new season spectacular promotion, which was held this year in the first half rather than the second half, as it was last year and thus hit comparative figures.

But at the same time it also said it had made progress in its new strategy of focusing on full-price sales by reducing by three days the promotional events it held during the period.

Chief executive Michael Sharp said the group had made “good progress on strategic priorities” and was on track to deliver results in line with market expectations.

“During this period we have continued to focus our promotional activity around the events Debenhams is famous for,” he said. “We have made further improvements to our multichannel proposition, including more competitive delivery charges; we have commenced further space trials with a number of exciting new partnerships; and have seen continued progress in our international operations, with another strong performance from Magasin.”

The company is trialling concessions with brands including Patisserie Valerie, Chi Kitchen and BHS lighting.

Sharp added: “Our customers tell us that, whilst they recognise the improving economic background, they remain cautious in their spending. Our wide product choice, clear destination departments and improving service proposition gives us a strong platform from which to deliver long-term sustainable growth.”

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