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Mobile dominates Debenhams online ordering

Debenhams accelerates its strategy to get in shape sooner

Debenhams customers now mostly turn to mobile when they shop online with the department store.

The multichannel department store, a Leading retailer in IRUK Top500 research, said today that more than 50% of its ecommerce orders came via mobile devices. Overall, online sales grew by 7% in the 15 weeks to June 11, it said in a trading statement today. In the 41 weeks to the same date, they grew by 9.1%. The retailer also saw strong growth in the use of its click and collect service, with 19% of internet orders now being picked up in store. Today’s update builds on half-year results that showed almost 50% of sales via mobile in that period.

Michael Sharp, Debenhams chief executive, said: “Our strategy remains unchanged, with further progress in driving our non-clothing mix, continuing to improve service for multi-channel customers, and offering a wider choice of products and services in under-optimised space. In response to more uncertain trading conditions in this period, particularly in clothing, we have focused on managing stock and margins and generating cash.”

Over the course of the 15-week period, group gross transaction value grew by 0.5%, though like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of store openings and closures, were down by 0.2%. Over the course of the 41 weeks, gross transactions were up by 1.3% and like-for-like sales by 0.7%.

Debenhams said the UK trading environment had been weaker since the new year, and particularly in clothing. It bought less seasonal stock is now using discrete promotions to manage that which remains. The focus is now on Christmas, and it says it is on track to fill 75% of the 1m sq ft that it has identified as surplus with third-party brands ahead of peak trading. New arrivals include 15 new Claire’s Accessories concessions and 18 Jack & Jones concessions.

Sharp added: “I am confident that I am leaving the business in the hands of a very strong management team, who will continue to execute our strategy and support our new CEO, Sergio Bucher, through the next phase of Debenhams’ development. Our wide product choice, clear destination departments and improving service proposition gives us a strong platform from which to deliver long term sustainable growth.”

Mobile at Debenhams: Our view

Debenhams is seeing a move to mobile that’s reflected across UK retailing, but is perhaps stronger in the department store sector, where, ONS figures – including these latest figures from May and these from April – show that online sales in the sector tend to grow more quickly than the average. These are not extra sales, but evidence of a move towards new ways of shopping – and that’s one that other retailers must consider as they plan for the changing way their own customers want to buy.

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