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Own labels help lift Debenhams puts

A strong own-label performance and market share gains across all clothing categories helped Debenhams to report a like-for-like sales fall of just 0.9% for the year ended August 30.

The department store chain said total sales were up 1.3% and that it was on track to meet profit forecasts thanks to a shift towards better-quality products and higher price points which have proven popular with consumers trading up in the economic downturn.

Market share also grew 10 basis points on womenswear, 20 basis points on menswear and 20 basis points on kidswear.

Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman said: “I am pleased that we have gained market share across all categories, which is down to the work we’ve done to put more into product. There is an element of consumers trading up but they are only trading up where there is better quality.”

Templeman added that Debenhams had outperformed the market in August when overall clothing sales were down on the previous year.

Similarly, broader Designers at Debenhams ranges and a readdressing of visual merchandising across own label for autumn 08 also boosted sales.

Templeman said: “Wovens in the Star by Julien Macdonald line, checks, ethnic prints and knitwear are all selling well.”

Templeman said that in contrast to a good performance on own brands, concession performance was weaker. He said this was partly due to improvements in Debenhams’ own collections but stressed that concessionaires remained an important part of the mix.

Templeman said the retail climate would remain “tough”, but added: “Oil is down below USStory text00 (£56) [a barrel] and food prices are starting to come down again but the effect of this on consumers would take a while

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