25 October 2012 11:31
Department store Debenhams has announced plans to open another 17 UK stores over the next five years as it announced a rise in sales today. The move, which is set to create 1,700 jobs and add more than £150 million in sales, comes on top of a nationwide store revamp programme which has seen 18 shops modernised over the past year.
Debenhams is also ramping up its overseas expansion, with plans to boost international franchises by another 20 over the next four years and increase online orders to a further 30 countries.
The group revealed its expansion plans as it reported a 4.2% rise in pre-tax profits to £158.3 million for the year to September 1st, after a recent sales revival.
Exclusive ranges from a star line-up of fashion designers - including Henry Holland and Julien MacDonald - helped the group grow its share of the competitive womenswear market, with group-wide like-for-like sales up 1.6% excluding VAT over the year.
The locations for the 17 new stores in the pipeline include Cheshire Oaks, Fort Kinnaird, Beverley, Wandsworth, Scunthorpe, Darlington, Shrewsbury and Newport, South Wales.
Debenhams, which has 155 UK stores, said it was committed to "reinvigorating the British high street" as it unveiled the latest store expansion plan, which builds on the nine new UK outlets announced last year.
Chief executive Michael Sharp said retailers were battling against a "very difficult market", but added the group expects to continue bucking the trend.
He said: "We believe that customers are acclimatised to the new economic reality. Whilst we don't anticipate a significant change in the economic environment in 2013, we expect to make further progress during the year."