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Debenhams takes on M&S and Next in footwear battle

Debenhams is looking to take on rivals Marks & Spencer and Next through aggressive growth in its women’s footwear departments across the UK.

The department store chain, which currently ranks sixth among its direct competitors, is looking to double market share by expanding its existing range and reaching out to new brands, largely international players.

The business is hoping this will see it move two or three places up the footwear league table, leapfrogging Primark and going head to head with M&S and Next.

Autumn 12 will see a series of store and product launches rolled out, with the footwear departments at each of the 170 branches nationwide given an extra 25% of space to house the new ranges.

The company is currently putting in a number of new shopfits, and the expansion will take place over the rest of the year. Some of its 69 international branches will also be getting a facelift.

Debenhams’ senior footwear brand merchandiser Joanne Parker said she had earmarked Faith, Designers at Debenhams such as J by Jasper Conran, and international brands to receive the biggest product increases. They are also being “heavily targeted” in consumer marketing campaigns. Parker said: “We want people to think of Debenhams as the key destination for footwear, offering a wide choice of shoes to suit all occasions, from formal workwear to eveningwear and casual.”

This is not the first department store to prioritise footwear as a key area of growth. Selfridges, House of Fraser and Harrods have all increased space dedicated to the division as they vie to become the go-to destination.

However, Parker insisted Debenhams had not lost out by expanding after its rivals, saying its selection made it stand out “in an overly crowded high street”.

She added: “Footwear has always been a desirable product, but the market has drastically changed from shoe sites to one-stop shops where department stores can provide a more integrated offer.

“Debenhams has the unique advantage of being able to showcase high street fashion alongside our exclusive Designer at Debenhams brands. We are able to offer a diverse selection of shoes, are very confident in our shoe offer and the success relies on our ranges catering for all budgets.”

The plans have met with approval from footwear suppliers, with one noting there was “potential for them to do more”.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Simply put, this means Debenhams will discount heavily to increase market share. Very 1980's.

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  • LoL, looks like they going to put a range of very loosely termed "designer" shoes along side their heavily discounted "exclusive" "designer" clothes, for aggressive growth read cheap.The UK public is more than aware of the discount, sale, discount, sale mentality, only way for Debs growth is to buy it through yet more scheme's, mark up to mark down. How refreshing it would be to hear Debs going for growth by trying to trade up by targetting the likes of HoF or John Lewis through innovative truely designed product, leap frogging Primark speaks volumes, I'm sure the "exclusive" designers love seeing their product constantly on sale. Goodluck to the suppliers who appear to have given it their seal of approval.

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