'Debenhams is running up a down escalator'

Debenhams summer advertising campaign.DebenhamsDebenhams summer advertising campaign.

LONDON — Debenhams shares are falling on Thursday morning, despite the announcement of a new digital-focused turnaround strategy from its Amazon alumni CEO.

Sergio Bucher, who joined Debenhams from Amazon last year, announced a new turnaround strategy and pledging to turn it into a mobile-first retailer with less cluttered stores.

Bucher says in a statement: “Our customers are changing the way they shop and we are changing too. Shopping with Debenhams should be effortless, reliable and fun whichever channel our customers use. We will be a destination for “Social Shopping” with mobile the unifying platform for interacting with our customers.”

“Our customers are changing the way they shop and we are changing too. Shopping with Debenhams should be effortless, reliable and fun whichever channel our customers use. We will be a destination for “Social Shopping” with mobile the unifying platform for interacting with our customers.”

But Bucher’s vision was overshadowed by disappointing half-year results. UK sales rose just 0.5%, pre-tax profit fell 6.4%, and margins declined by 30 basis points.

Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst, said in an email on Thursday morning: “The implication is that Debenhams is, like other department store chains, running up a down escalator.

Bucher’s turnaround plan will likely be expensive, Bubb adds, and “Debenhams have failed to take the opportunity to offer shareholders any sales or profit targets against which the new programme should be judged, which is disappointing.

“We are sure the new CEO Sergio Bucher is capable of showing off some exciting new store redesign plans etc, but we can’t see anything obvious here to get the lowly share price moving up.”

Shares are down over 3% at 8.25 a.m. BST (3.25 a.m. ET):

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