Debenhams, which has annoucned plans to close 50 stores amid record annaul losses, has “held share, and driven” c10% sales growth in food, for the 52 weeks to 1 September 2018, with both owned and concessioned formats performing well.

Among the business’ strategic priorities, identified in April this year, was changing the store experience. As part of this Debenhams has rolled out seven additional third party food brand offers and improved the menus and service offer in our own-managed food operation. This has resulted in record UK food sales this year, up c10%.

The retailer opened its “store of the future” in Watford last month, and will be revamping many of its other sites, with plans to roll out c.75 pop-up food and drink offers.

Overall like-for-like sales declined 2.3% with constant currency LFL at (2.7%), with the UK market background remaining volatile in the second half of the year.

Sergio Bucher, CEO, commented: “It has been a tough year for retail in 2018 and our performance reflects that. We are taking decisive steps to strengthen Debenhams in a market that remains volatile and challenging. Working with our new CFO Rachel Osborne, and the board, I am determined to maintain rigorous cost and capital discipline and to prioritise investment to achieve profitable growth. At the same time, we are taking tough decisions on stores where financial performance is likely to deteriorate over time.

“Debenhams remains a strong and trusted brand with 19m customers shopping with us over the past year. Our transformation strategy is gaining traction, with positive results from new product and new formats, general acclaim for our store of the future in Watford and digital growth that is outpacing the market. With a strengthened balance sheet, we will focus investment behind our strategic priorities and ensure that Debenhams has a sustainable and profitable future.”