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Debenhams secures St George by Duffer

Debenhams is understood to have splashed out £2.5 million to acquire the licence for its St George by Duffer menswear and kidswear collections.
The department store chain, which has issued three profit warnings since it floated on the London stock exchange last year, is thought to have bought the licence to help it realise better margins and give it more control over its menswear offer. Debenhams declined to comment on the purchase.

Some of Debenhams’ woes have been blamed on its poor menswear sales. But the retailer said its menswear market share had started to recover. Chief executive Rob Templeman said: “We have focused on delivering greater value to our customers, improving quality and design. We have invested selectively in price. This has proved effective, particularly in menswear where we have seen improving market share.”

Debenhams said sales for the year to September 1 were up 5.1% compared with the previous year, but like-for-like sales remained 5% down over the full year. Gross margin is expected to be about 0.9% down on the previous year because of investment in new product pricing and increased markdowns to clear old stock.

The department store chain said pre-tax profits would be in line with market expectations at about £130m. However, Templeman warned that trading would continue to be tough. “Macro-economic factors suggest the retail environment will be more challenging in the short term. Nonetheless, we believe the actions we have implemented will serve us well for the new financial year,” he said.
Templeman said store refurbishment and opening programmes were on track and added: “We are confident that the improvements to our stores and to our visual merchandising, product developments and our recently launched marketing campaign will ensure the company has a strong platform from which to build.”

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