Department stores in the UK thank beauty for boosted sales

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Department stores in the UK thank beauty for boosted sales

Related tags: Retailing

Debenhams, a leading department store chain in the UK, has used the strong recent performance of its beauty offerings to defend the future of the retail format.

According to a recent report in the Telegraph, the store’s sales enjoyed a strong performance over the festive period thanks to its ability to attract consumers looking for high-end beauty in a setting that offered an appropriate experience.

The department store chain posted a 3.5% rise in like-for-like sales over the 18 weeks to January 7, with UK like-for-like sales lifting by 1%. These figures were reportedly lifted by sales of 300,000 eye-shadow palettes and 4m perfume bottles.

Debenhams also has online sales to thank for its figures, with the company enjoying a 13.9% surge in online shoppers over the festive period. Online now makes up 17% of its revenues.

A distinctive retail experience

Sergio Bucher, the retailers recently appointed chief executive, voiced his confidence in the department store model.

“We don't just sell product but great experiences and that's something where department stores can be different. Retail is all about reinventing itself, and we have reinvented ourselves many times over our 200-year history and we can do it again,”​ he asserted.

The company now controls 34% of the UK beauty market, the biggest share out of its rivals, according to the Telegraph, and while Debenhams describes beauty as ‘slightly dilutive to margins’, it remains confident that as a growing category, beauty sales would be higher.

The company said that it would not feel the impact of the weaker pound this year as it was hedged until August.

Rivals in on the act

Debenhams’ confidence in beauty follows a similar display from its rival, John Lewis, which in August last year, announced it would be investing a multi million pound investment into its beauty halls.

Indeed, the retailer noted that its beauty had begun to outsell its fashion collection, rising by a third in the past five years, and that beauty and personal care had become a major driver of its footfall.

Buying director for fashion and beauty, Ed Connolly, said: “Beauty is one of the best performing categories at John Lewis and a significant footfall driver, so this investment is a reflection of our ambition in this space.”

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