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Debenhams bets on Kate Thomas to tempt women

Debenhams is looking to its Kate Thomas own label to regain market share in womenswear lost through the closures of La Senza and Jane Norman concessions.

The department store chain’s womenswear market share for the 12 weeks to March 18 was down 10 basis points, primarily due to the concession closures at the end of last year.

Debenhams announced first-half results to March 3 last week and chief executive Michael Sharp said womenswear performance was “OK” amid “challenging trading conditions”.

He said: “This has been OK, bearing in mind that we have a higher percentage of outerwear in our product mix and that we had an unseasonably warm autumn.”

Debenhams began rolling out Kate Thomas to 50 of its 170 stores in February, replacing the space previously occupied by Jane Norman concessions. The collection, which has dresses at its core, is aimed at 25 to 35-year-olds.

Verdict Research retail analyst Honor Westnedge said the closure of Jane Norman would have hit Debenhams significantly. According to Verdict’s

2012 forecast, Debenhams has a 2.9% womenswear market share, behind Marks & Spencer, Next and New Look.

She said: “They will have lost the Jane Norman footfall and those customers would have shopped other brands while in-store. Introducing Kate Thomas was a good move to cater for that shopper and try to pick up that spend.”

Debenhams’ profits edged up 1.4% to £127.1m in its first half, while group like-for-like sales were also up 1.4% including VAT.

Jane Norman axed its Debenhams concessions last August after it went into administration in June, while the La Senza concessions closed in January.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Debenhams are obsessed with market share! You don't have to be the biggest to be the best. It's not what you take, it's what you make. It's only a matter of time before they give their clothes away with every copy of The Evening Standard.

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