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Debenhams leads High Street updates
Debenhams will report fourth quarter figures on Tuesday
Retailers will remain in focus next week when the likes of Debenhams, French Connection and ASOS are due to report figures.
The market will be keen for reassurance over trading conditions on the high street from department store chain Debenhams on Tuesday, following rival Next's warning of an "unusually quiet" August and September.
The Debenhams group, which reports fourth quarter figures on Tuesday, has delivered robust sales growth in recent months as its recently appointed chief executive Michael Sharp leads a turnaround at the chain. Sales rose 3.1% in the 16 weeks to June 23, against 0.3% in the previous half year.
Mr Sharp, who was appointed last September, has been focusing on improving sales growth rather than margins - a strategy that has paid off, according to analysts Half-year profits rose by 1.4% to £127.1 million and Debenhams' share price has leapt by 32% in the past six months, and by 87% in the past 12 months.
Analysts are expecting sales to remain positive in the final quarter, although a weaker clothing market is set to ease growth slightly. Fraser Ramzan at Nomura is pencilling in a 2% rise in like-for-like sales growth, while Investec analysts predict a less impressive 1% increase.
Fashion retailer French Connection is set to report a big half-year loss on Wednesday after revenues declined by 7% on a year earlier.
The group, which has borne the brunt of the high street slowdown, has already warned the result for the six months to July 31 will be £7 million below last year, when it recorded an operating profit of £300,000. Founder and chief executive Stephen Marks has called conditions the worst he has known in 40 years of trading.
Freddie George, an analyst at Seymour Pierce stockbrokers, is forecasting full-year pre-tax losses of £3 million to reflect the weak trading outlook in the UK and the loss of the Sears contract.
Online retailer ASOS, which targets twenty-somethings with clothes based on outfits first worn by celebrities, is expected to report more rampant growth in its last trading update of the financial year on Wednesday as it shrugs off the economic gloom.
ASOS is forecast by broker Numis Securities to report sales growth of around 30% in the June to August period, in line with the third quarter. The group, which has seen shares rise 23% in the last year, is on track for full-year pre-tax profits of £44 million, compared to £40.9 million last year.
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