British Queen celebrates


Department store chain Debenhams has launched its first homewares catalogue in a move that will heap further pressure on ailing Argos.

The 68-page catalogue, which has been sent out to the chain's 195,000 store card holders, is designed to draw shoppers to its website and boost sales of electrical goods and furniture, which are not stocked in all of its stores.

It marks a step-up in the chain's competition with Argos, which last week revealed underlying profits fell 94% to £3.4 million in the 26 weeks to August 27 as customers cut-back on electrical items, such as TVs and computer game consoles.

Meanwhile, Debenhams reported a bullish performance, with pre-tax profits up 10% to £166.1 million in the 53 weeks to September 3, as it benefited from selling more of its higher margin exclusive ranges.

The chain's new chief executive Michael Sharp insisted the UK high street was "alive and well" and announced plans to modernise a further 25 stores and open nine new outlets over the next four years.


Debenhams previously ran a catalogue service across its ranges, between 1997 and 2004. It was scrapped to allow the company to focus on online sales.

The latest catalogue will feature home ranges from big brands and its exclusive designers such as Jasper Conran, Ben de Lisi and John Rocha, and will feature stylists' tips and advice.

It is part of a drive to boost trade through Debenhams' website, which has included putting internet kiosks into its stores to allow customers to order ranges not available in-store to be delivered to their homes.

Steve Lightfoot, Debenhams' divisional trading director for Home, said: "I am confident the catalogue will encourage them to reappraise Debenhams as a homeware destination."


PA, photo by tosh123