Good News For Retailers As Economy Revives
Both Debenhams and Asos buck the trend of struggling retailers, reporting strong financial results.
The department store group said it plans to open another 17 stores over the next five years as it reports a 4.2% rise in pre-tax profit to £158.3m.
The move will create 1,700 jobs and boost sales by over £150m, according to Debenhams.
Chief executive Michael Sharp said the group had made good progress in 2012, despite difficult economic conditions.
"I believe the strong sales momentum we achieved in the second half of 2012 is clear evidence that our strategy to build a leading international, multi-channel brand is working," he said.
"This has prompted us to be more ambitious with our medium-term targets for the growth of our online and international operations."
He added that customers are becoming acclimatised to the new economic reality.
"Whilst we don't anticipate a significant change in the economic environment in 2013, we expect to make further progress during the year," he said.
The new stores will be opened in towns including Cheshire Oaks, Beverley, Wandsworth, Scunthorpe, and Newport, South Wales.
Online retailer Asos also reported good results after strong trading overseas - especially in the US and Australia - more than offset slower growth in the UK.
Total sales rose 38% to £538m - with international sales up 64%, compared to a 10% rise in the UK.
The company's profit before tax and exceptional items rose 42% to £13.2m for the five months to the end of August.
Chief executive Nick Robertson said the website now has five million customers across the world.
"During the period we improved our product offer in terms of range, quality and price, invested in our customer proposition, made progress in developing the Asos platform and continued to drive efficiencies from the business to fuel our future growth," he said.
"We remain positive in our outlook for 2012/13 as we continue our journey to becoming the number one online fashion destination for 20-somethings, globally."
Official GDP figures showed that the UK economy grew by 1% in the third quarter, after nine months of contraction.