Debenhams plans to ‘refocus’ after poor Christmas trading performance

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DEBENHAMS is to refocus its promotional strategy after a disastrous Christmas trading performance led to a sharp fall in half-year profits.

The department store chain, which has 158 outlets in the UK, will also look to speed up delivery times in its online operation and said it is in discussions to introduce a number of “well-known” brands into its shops.

The moves, outlined by chief executive Michael Sharp, follow a “challenging” period in which profits fell 24.5 per cent to £85.2m in the 26 weeks to March 1.

Debenhams alerted the City to the slide in profits on New Year’s Eve after weak trading in September and October and poor sales in clothing was compounded by a difficult festive period as rivals engaged in a price war.

The company said today: “Promotions are a traditional strength of Debenhams but in the run-up to Christmas their impact was diluted by the highly promotional trading environment in the UK.

“We are therefore refocusing our promotional strategy which will see more clearly defined promotional periods in the trading calendar with fewer days on promotion.”

Debenhams said it also trailed behind its rivals in terms of convenience because it lacked a competitive range of premium delivery options.

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