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Formalwear glimmers but fails to stop Debenhams posting weakest sales for two years

Designers at Debenhams men’s formalwear were two bright points in the department store’s results - but failed to stop it from posting its worst results in two years.

Debenhams released its trading update today (June 27), showing flat like-for-like sales over the 16 weeks to June 22, following eight consecutive quarters of growth.

The results were 2% lower than analysts had forecast, but there were some areas of strong performance, with its fashion arm increasing market share by 20 basis points (bps).

Womenswear rose 10bps and menswear by 40bps.

Chief executive Michael Sharp said menswear growth was “particularly strong”, driven by a surge in the sale of “suits, shirts and formalwear.”

He added: “When put into context in the flat menswear market, the 40bps growth demonstrates the strength of our product and customer satisfaction with our ranges.”

Sharp said the appeal of menswear division at Debenhams would be increased further with the launch of Patrick Grant’s collection Hammond & co this autumn.

He said: “Patrick is very credible in the industry and the new younger range will give people another reason to choose to shop at Debenhams. Its strength lies in its broad age appeal.”

The range of “classic yet contemporary” suits, formal and casualwear will be available in 50 stores nationwide and online from September.

Grant is the latest edition to the Designers at Debenhams line up which Sharp credits as one of the company’s most important points of difference.

Sharp said: “50% of our fashion is completely exclusive to Debenhams, including our Designers at Debenhams range. This unique quality is integral to the Debenhams growth strategy; it’s what sets us apart.”

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