UK: New Debenham's chief's vision for the future
Newly appointed Debenhams' chief executive, Belinda Earl, has unveiled her plans to take the UK department store forward, which include linking up with sexy lingerie designer, Janet Reger. Ms Earl has announced plans to open more stores, add to the chain's international operations and launch more own-range health and beauty products. She said the store's strategy was to win more customers, make existing shoppers spend more and move into new markets. Full-year results for the store just released show that total sales were up 1.4 per cent at £1,397.9 million but profits down from £138.8 million to £129.6 million. Ms Earl said that according to independent research carried out by Verdict, Debenhams had increased its market share of the UK department store market to over 13 per cent. She said: "Over the last year, we have significantly outperformed our competitors. We have a clear strategy to drive future profitability and grow market share. This being achieved by increasing sales to our existing customers, attracting new customers and moving into new markets. "We differentiate Dagenham's from other retailers by better understanding our customers' needs and aspirations. We sell a unique range of product categories and brands in an attractive shopping environment." During the last financial year, Debenhams has opened four new stores in Dundee, Reading, Weymouth and Banbury. Since the financial year end, two more stores have been opened in Sunderland and Milton Keynes. Three more stores will be opened over the next three months in Carlisle, Uxbridge and Oxford. As well as lingerie, where a new Janet Reger range is to be launched next year, Ms Earl has also identified health and beauty as growth areas. The store's own `MEA' range, launched in June, has become one of its top ten selling make-up brands and now Debenhams plans to launch more own-range health and beauty products.
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