Comment: Debenhams planning plenty of growth in store
AMONG the winners and losers on the high street it appears the department stores have fared particularly well. Debenhams, like John Lewis, has shown few ill-effects of the wet weather or the distraction of the Olympics.
While Marks & Spencer and Next have reported a softening in demand and warned that it could be a slow climb out of recession, Debenhams has seen another strong lift in like-for-like summer sales.
Worryingly for its rivals, Debenhams is taking market share in the important womenswear sector, a particular concern for M&S, with hints that it may be tightening its grip.
With in-store sales particularly under pressure, one specific determinant of success and failure has been the extent to which retailers have developed their online sales and both Debenhams and John Lewis have led the way. Online sales at the former soared by an impressive 40 per cent over the 52-week period.
Debenhams is benefiting from continued investment in marketing and in its nationwide chain of stores, some of which have been badly in need of refurbishment.
Chief executive Michael Sharp has been in post a year and investors will be delighted with the progress he has made with his sales driven strategy.
However, it has to be said that the chain has also gained from heavy discounting and promotional activity that cannot continue indefinitely. Analysts caution that it must try to nurture customer loyalty through brands rather than merely rely on pricing to achieve sales growth.
But while its rivals worry about a broadly sluggish and fragile high street, Debenhams is confidently predicting profits to be ahead of last year and it is providing a much-needed boost to confidence in the retail sector ahead, particularly in the run up to Christmas.
Galliford Try building on solid foundations
the good run of results from builders continued yesterday with a stellar performance from Galliford Try.
Investors will share in the firm’s target-beating results with an eye-catching 88 per cent hike in the total dividend.
Not all its figures went in the right direction: construction revenues and margins were squeezed, but housebuilding has beaten its target of doubling in size.
Galliford, which acquired Edinburgh firm Morrison Construction, has been fortunate to pick up some of the highest profile contracts in recent times: the Centre Court roof at Wimbledon and work on the Olympic park. But it is this sort of work, and a focus on the more buoyant south of England, that is helping it achieve such attractive results.
Age is not a barrier to being an entrepreneur
they say that if you’re good enough then you’re old enough, an observation usually reserved for up and coming young talent. But it is also the case that you’re never too old to be successful or to try something new.
An awards scheme has been launched to recognise the contribution that older entrepreneurs make to the economy and to inspire mature workers into starting their own businesses.
The scheme acknowledges that older people do not necessarily want to wind down and put their feet up but instead want to show they still have drive, energy and passion.
It coincides with a report saying most of us now believe the onset of middle age has moved from 40 to 55 and that a growing number embark on new projects even into their 70s.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
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Wind direction: North west
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