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In the news this week… Retail Round-up

Including Debenhams revealing its new strategy to become a leader in ‘social shopping’.

The Source rounds up some of the key retail stories of the week.

Debenhams has unveiled a new strategy, focusing on three pillars of ‘destination, digital and different’. Called Debenhams Redesigned, the strategy will see the retailer aim to become a market leader in ‘social shopping’. It said it will achieve this by ‘offering exciting new products, services and experiences, as well as building on category strengths’. It will also be investing in improving its mobile offer, as well as unifying online and offline offerings. Debenhams also said that it will be reducing its stock options by 10% to ‘declutter’ its stores.

Meanwhile, the announcement of Debenhams Redesigned coincided with the retailer reporting its half year results. It posted a 6.4% drop in pre-tax profits in the 26 weeks to March 24 to £87.8 million. UK like for likes edged up slightly by 0.5% during the period.

Primark has posted an increase in profits and sales during the first half of the year. The fashion retailer saw 3.2% growth in operating profit at actual exchange rates to £323 million during the 24 weeks to March 4. Sales during the period grew 11% year on year to £3.2 billion. In the UK, sales grew 7% on a total basis and 2% on like for like terms.

Marks & Spencer is planning to open 36 new stores over the next six months. The plans will include 34 new food stores and two clothing, home and food outlets. The plan is part of M&S’ five-year UK store programme which it unveiled last year. It also includes proposals to close six shops.

John Lewis saw its sales rise 11.7% to £84 million in the week ending April 15, boosted by Easter and warmer weather. Fashion sales increased 10.3%, with women’s casualwear rising 41% and menswear up 14.4%, while sales of home products grew 11.1% – this was driven by a 260.9% leap in seasonal gift food purchases and a 15.7% increase in cooking and dining items.

House of Fraser more than doubled its pre-tax profits last year to £3.4 million. Gross transaction value was flat at £1.3 billion in the year to January 28, with like for likes up 0.9%. The online business, meanwhile, grew 16.1% in like for like sales, accounting for 21.8% of the total.

A report by the National Audit Office has said that overseas sellers on online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay failed to charge the appropriate level of tax on goods sold to British customers last year – resulting in a loss of up to £1.5 billion in VAT by the Government. The majority of the implicated sellers were based in China and were failing to charge the standard 20% VAT rate applied to retailers outside the EU.

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