In eCommerce Push, Debenhams To Close Stores

As with many physical retail brands today, U.K.-based department store Debenhams looks to reinvent itself after seeing profits decline.

Debenhams shares fell on Thursday after the department store reported its pretax profit for the half-year ending April 20 dropped 6.4 percent to £87.8 million ($112.5 million). The U.K.-based department store hopes to make moves to boost its eCommerce presence, moves that include closing physical store locations.

Debenham’s eCommerce push comes after the company recruited new CEO Sergio Bucher in October of last year, said Bloomberg, a former fashion executive at online retail giant Amazon.

In an earnings release statement, Bucher said, “Our customers are changing the way they shop, and we are changing, too. Shopping with Debenhams should be effortless, reliable and fun whichever channel our customers use. We will be a destination for ‘social shopping’ with mobile the unifying platform for interacting with our customers.”

The plan is to reportedly close as many as 10 U.K. outlets in the next five years. Additionally, Debenhams will consult one shutting one of its distribution centers. The company may also scrap scrapping a few in-house brands like Jasper Conran and John Rocha, said Bloomberg, due to concerns of sales declines among younger shoppers.

The move to “social shopping” will target consumers via mobile devices, aiming to drive an increase in foot traffic.

We will give our customers more reasons to come to Debenhams, whether they are at home, on the train or in the high street, and build a stronger relationship with them, centered around mobile interaction,” the company wrote. “We score well on many metrics compared with competitors but can do better to encourage frequency of visit.”

Debenhams said it plans to develop its Click & Collect service, pushing to link it with personal shopping features. The company also said it sees opportunities to grow its digital partnerships in the eCommerce space.


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