Nov 15, 2018

Debenhams shares swing sharply on bleak retail outlook

Shares in Debenhams fell sharply for a second day before recovering as investors weighed the increasingly bleak outlook for the UK department store sector. At one point on Thursday shares in the group, which has 165 stores in the UK, were down 9 per cent to 4.5p, giving it a market value of about £60m - roughly the same as clothing retailer Quiz, whose annual revenues are a 20th of Debenhams' sales. Official retail sales figures for October from the Office for National Statistics were also weaker than expected, falling 0.5 per cent from the previous month, with homeware again disappointing. Drapers, a trade publication, reported that several suppliers had stopped working with Debenhams after insurers cut back on supplier cover. At its full-year results in October, Debenhams scrapped its dividend and outlined a plan to close about a third of its UK stores over the next few years, and sublet or divide space at others.

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