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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 14:09 GMT
Debenhams unveils profits surge
Betty Jackson - Designers at Debenhams
The Designers at Debenhams range helped drive sales
Profits at department store Debenhams more than doubled as annual sales broke through the 2bn barrier.

Pre-tax profits for the year to 3 September surged to 238.6m from 107m last year as like-for-like sales rose 2.8% to 2.09bn.

Debenhams, which operates 120 stores in the UK and 23 abroad, said it saw the potential to double those numbers.

But the privately-owned company denied market speculation that it was planning a spring return to the stock market.

However, the company refused to rule out a market return next year.

Debenhams was taken private when it was acquired almost two years ago by Baroness Retail, a private equity consortium involving CVC Capital, for 1.7bn.

Designer driven

"We are really pleased with the numbers and things look very positive for the future," finance director Chris Woodhouse said.

He added that the company's 'Designers at Debenhams' ranges - such as clothes by John Rocha and handbags by Julien McDonald - proved to have been "star performers" that had helped drive the business forward.

Debenhams managed to buck the general High Street trend of doom and gloom - increasing its market share to 18.6% from 16.4% during the year.

"We think we are selling quality merchandise at great value-for-money prices which is what people seem to want at the moment," he sadi.

Looking ahead, Mr Woodhouse remained optimistic, despite warning that trading conditions had worsened since September.

"There is no doubt it has got tougher out there but we are really well set up for Christmas. On the back of that I think we will take more than our fair share in terms of market share."

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