Debenhams today said a 40% rise in online sales in its latest financial year was confirmation that its multichannel strategy was working.
New of the fast growth, ahead of a market average of 13%, came as the multichannel department store also unveiled a 2.6% rise in total sales and a 1.6% rise in group-like-for-like sales, excluding VAT, in the year to September 1, in an end-of-year trading update.
Debenhams said that visits to Debenhams.com were up by more than 50% in the period, a change that it said was “driven in part by extremely strong growth in mobile channels (up 27%).” Internationally, the company now delivers online purchases to 67 countries and trades in Germany through a dedicated website.
The company said pre-tax profits were expected to be ahead of last year, and that its international business had also enjoyed good growth.
"This performance is clear confirmation that our strategy to build a leading international, multi-channel brand is beginning to work,” said chief executive Michael Sharp . “It is also evidence of the calibre of the team charged with delivering this strategy and I would like to offer my sincere thanks for the hard work of all 30,000 employees during the year. We do not anticipate a significant change in the economic environment in the near future but we expect to continue to make progress in 2013.”
Good growth was also seen in Debenhams’ international business and in its modernised stores, with those that had been updated for a full year now seeing an uplift in sales of around 6%, the company said. Progress had been made in gaining marketshare in womenswear – up by 20 basis points in the 12 weeks to August 5, according to Kantar Worldpanel figures – and other key categories.
Sharp added: “I am delighted with our strong performance and the progress we have made in 2012. To deliver like-for-like sales growth in these extremely challenging market conditions is highly creditable and we achieved this result by relentlessly focusing on our customers.”
The company said it was to reduce its debt further, with plans to buy back £20m in shares by the end of the year.