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Reasons to be cheerful at Debenhams

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Department store group Debenhams has reported strong growth in its multichannel business in its latest financial year, with up to 1.6m weekly visits recorded to its website.

In its full-year results, the company said sales through Debenhams Direct increased by 88.4% to £103.8m in the year to August 28, contributing to a 15% rise in pre-tax profits and showing returns on its strategy of investing in multichannel development.

That strategy includes providing multichannel services through more access points, marketing across channels, making the customer journey easier and improving product content and availability.

In 2010 the company introduced instore ordering in all of its stores, alongside ‘collect from store’ and international delivery.

It also introduced an iPhone app and Debenhams TV, while focusing on social media and improving its checkout process.

Yesterday it said pre-tax profits rose by 15.8% to £139.9m from £120.8m, while turnover improved by 10.5% to £2.1bn from £1.9bn at the same time last year.

Chief executive Rob Templeman said the rise in profits came in a year of structural change at Debenhams, and added: “We have now delivered five consecutive halves of profit growth despite the difficult trading environment.”

He added: “As we look forward we will continue to focus on our core strategy of self-help initiatives focused on managing gross margins, driving market share and growing through expansion and investment.

“In spite of the uncertain outlook, there is much to be positive about our business which will enable us to make further progress over the next year.”

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