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Debenhams rolls out £43m refit campaign

Debenhams is betting on a £43 million revamp strategy to lift its fortunes over the next year, after it unveiled an upturn in sales for the start of autumn 07.
Another 12 stores are expected to be refurbished before Christmas to add to the nine already overhauled in the past year, and by September 2009 80 of its existing 135 shops will have been completed.
The refits will be based on the Uxbridge store in west London. Like-for-like sales at the store have risen 10% since its new look was unveiled this summer.
Seymour Pierce analyst Andrew Wade estimated that the refits would cost about £15 per sq ft, compared with £50 per sq ft for some of Debenhams’ competitors. The department store group is upping its spend on refurbishments from £18m in the past year to £43m in 2007/08, largely because more of its stores are being refitted.
Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman said Uxbridge and other refits had made Debenhams realise there were bigger gains to be had than was first thought.
The retailer also aims to improve the price and quality positioning of its menswear. For instance, a Rocha John Rocha shirt with extra detailing will now retail for £40 to £45, compared with a previous price of £55 for similar merchandise.
Wade said Debenhams was securing better terms from its suppliers by ordering more key items, for instance upping its order for a particular line from 5,000 to 20,000 pieces.
Templeman said that Debenhams hoped to boost its online sales from £30m a year to £100m within two to three years.
Debenhams’ gross transaction value (including sales from concessions) climbed 5.1% to £2.31 billion for the year to September 1. Pre-tax profits and exceptionals rose 13% to £127.5m. Like-for-like sales dropped 5%.
However, sales improved in the seven weeks to October 20, with like-for-likes up 2.1%, excluding the nine former Roches stores in the Republic of Ireland.

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