Debenhams sales fall flat

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​D​epartment store chain Debenhams said ​customers remain cautious as it announced sluggish sales over the past four months.

Britain’s ​second biggest department stores chain behind John Lewis said on Thursday sales at stores open over a year were flat over the 15 weeks to June 13, versus analysts’ third quarter forecasts of down ​two​ per​ ​cent to up 0.5 per​ ​cent.

​​Debenhams, which currently trades from over 240 stores across 27 countries, also said it ​i​s on track to open five more stores in the UK this ​a​utumn - in Bradford, ​Beverley​, Wandsworth, Rugby and Newport.​

The ​latest ​performance follow​s​ first half growth of 1.3 per​ ​cent, which was enhanced by ​one​ per​ ​cent from the shift of a key sale period from the third to the second quarter.

“Our customers tell us that, whilst they recognise the improving economic background, they remain cautious in their spending,” said ​c​hief ​e​xecutive Michael Sharp.

Debenhams said it ​i​s on track to achieve ​annual ​pre​-​tax profit expectations of ​£​111​m.

The firm is cutting back promotions, strengthening online ordering and delivery options, and adding concessions in under-used store space to secure higher returns, improve choice and increase shopper numbers.

Debenhams said it had agreed concession trials with new partners including Patisserie Valerie, Chi Kitchen and BHS lighting, to add to deals already done with Sports Direct), Costa Coffee, Monsoon and Jack & Jones.