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Almost 50% of Debenhams online sales now via mobile

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Debenhams said this week that almost half of is online sales took place via mobile devices in the first half of its financial year, in line with its mobile-first approach to multichannel investment.

Mobile commerce was its fastest growing channel, with smartphone sales growing by almost 70%, year-on-year, while online as a whole grew by 10% to £246m – or 15.1% of total sales in the six months to February 27. The uplift came as Debenhams, a Leading retailer in the IRUK Top500 research, invested in improving its multichannel service to customers and launched a new international web platform as part of its strategy to build overseas sales across all channels.

Across the group, revenue of £1.3bn was 0.1% up on the same time last year. In the UK, sales of £1.1bn were 1% up but international sales of £217.5m were down by 4.2% on the £227.1m reported last time. Like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of store openings and closures, were up by 1.1%. Pre-tax profits of £93.8m were 5.5% up on the same time last year at the department store, which finished the half-year with 253 stores in 27 countries, and sells online in more than 60 countries.

The retailer said its strategic priorities of delivering a compelling customer proposition while increasing availability and choice through multichannel were paying off. It is also focusing on UK retail while planning international multichannel expansion, after a half-year in which international online sales grew by 40% in local currency. Its new international platform initially covers five countries, including France, Germany, and Australia, with more releases to follow.

Debenhams ultimately aims to make 30% of its sales online, and in the first half of the year it focused on multichanel improvements including later cut-off times for next day and evening delivery, alongside more competitive delivery charges. Its 'endless aisle' service was extended to about 150 stores, enabling in-store picking of online orders for home delivery, while an 31% of online orders were collected in store in the first half – rising to 46% over Christmas. More than one in 10 click and collect customers went on to buy in store while they were visiting to collect their order.

Marketing investment has focused on driving visits and conversion via mobile devices, with a relaunch of its app in the run up to Christmas. Ahead of Christmas, it said, it was one of the top five most-visited online retailers.

• Meanwhile, at IRUK Top250 retailer Burberry , chief creative and executive officer Christopher Bailey said digital continued to outperform, and innovation was resonating with its customers in a market that "remains challenging for luxury," as the upmarket fashion retailer announced a 1% fall in total revenue to £1.4bn in the first half of its financial year.

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