Debenhams to Shut Stores as Amazon Recruit Gives Web Vision Debenhams to Shut Stores as Amazon Recruit Gives Web Vision

Debenhams to Shut Stores as Amazon Recruit Gives Web Vision Featured

"Our customers are changing the way they shop and we are changing too"

Debenhams Plc said it will shut stores as a new chief executive officer recruited from Amazon.com Inc. taps his experience at the e-commerce provider to try to revive the U.K. retailer’s flagging sales via a stronger online offering.

Debenhams, which operates a flagship store on London’s Oxford Street, said it will close as many as 10 U.K. outlets over the next five years and begin consultations on shutting one of three central distribution centers. The announcement came the same day that competitor Marks & Spencer Group Plc unveiled the first details of a five-year program to add dedicated food stores and shut some of its main town-center sites.

Debenhams shares fell as much as 5.9 percent after the retailer said pretax profit for the first half fell 6 percent to 88 million pounds ($113 million). The company also said it considering scrapping some in-house brands amid concerns that younger shoppers are shying away from offerings such as Jasper Conran and John Rocha.

“Our customers are changing the way they shop and we are changing too,” Debenhams CEO Sergio Bucher said in a statement Thursday.

Digital Investment

Bucher replaced Michael Sharp in October, having spent three years as a fashion executive at Amazon. He also previously worked at sportswear maker Puma SE and Spanish clothing retailer Inditex SA. The revamp at Debenhams is aimed at reducing clutter and replenishing stocks more quickly -- a key element of Inditex-owned fast-fashion chain Zara’s success -- the U.K. company said.

The investments in digital offerings are aimed at targeting shoppers via mobile devices, so that they visit stores more regularly, the company said. Debenhams plans to develop its Click & Collect service to link it with features such as personal shopping and said it sees opportunities for partnerships with e-commerce providers.
 
 
 

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