Debenhams has reported strong year-end results, showing group sales up by 4.5% and profits up for the third year running by 10.0% to £166.1m. It also announced the acceleration of its store modernisation programme and the opening of nine new stores.
The results, first announced by Debenhams’ new chief executive Michael Sharp, buck recent high street gloom.
The new store and modernisation programme will create 4,050 jobs and further cements the retailer’s commitment to getting Britain working again. It builds on the recent announcement that the retailer is creating 6,500 roles in the run up to Christmas.
Debenhams announced that the first 20 of the 45 stores to receive a makeover will be completed in 2012 in the following areas: Chester, Bournemouth, Harrow, Luton, Colchester, Harrogate, Preston, Middlesbrough, Cheltenham, Reading, Northampton, Bedford, Hull, Carlisle, Worthing, Sutton (Surrey), Plymouth, Salisbury, Blackburn and Southend on Sea.
The remainder will be finished by the following year and these further locations will be announced at a later date.
“This is a strong signal that the UK high street is alive and well and we are backing it 100%. It’s great news for job seekers as well as shoppers across the country. It also shows a very real commitment to our clear focus on growing our UK retail business.
“A mix of refurbishment, new brands and the addition of extra top designer and beautybrands deliver what effectively looks like a new store following a modernisation.
“I’m delighted that over the next few years more customers than ever before will have access to the UK’s top name beauty brands and our exclusive and ever-growing Designer at Debenhams offer”, said Michael Sharp, Chief Executive, Debenhams.
The nine new stores will be open over the next four years (2012 to 2015) in the following areas: Chesterfield, Burton upon Trent, Darlington, Carlow (Republic of Ireland), Sligo (Ireland), Bradford, Hereford, Barnsley, and Macclesfield.
The Debenhams property team is also actively looking for further sites to bring the department store offer to even more locations across the UK.
“Our new Debenhams Extra order screens enable our smallest stores to offer our widest range.
“Our model allows us to trade successfully in store sizes from 25.000 sq. ft. to 200,000 sq. ft. which means we can be successful in a variety of markets.
“This year alone Debenhams has opened a 25,000 sq. ft. store in Fareham and a 70,000 sq. ft. store in Wakefield,” continued Michael Sharp.
The acceleration of the programme follows 14 stores that have been modernised across the country from Stirling in the North of Scotland to Portsmouth in the South from spring 2010 to date.