With John Lewis this week reporting top-line profits down and House of Fraser still in the midst of a restructuring process that could see several of its stores closing, the UK’s traditional department stores seem to be facing an unprecedented and sustained period of peril.
The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) reported top-line profits down by 99 percent on the same time last year, with rising revenues dampened by investment expenditure.
Earlier this week, Debenhams saw its share price fall (down 10 percent between 12 and 13 September) after media reports that it was in restructuring discussions with KPMG.
The news comes after House of Fraser went into administration in August, with Sports Direct buying the chain out of administration for £90 million on 10 August. Owner Mike Ashley, who has committed to saving 47 of 59 House of Fraser stores, this week repeated his pledge to make the chain into the “Harrods of the high street” as Sports Direct announced it was on track to achieve its expected EBITDA improvements this year.
The bad news, especially from John Lewis, has triggered a new wave of concern for the high street. However, analysis by InternetRetailing’s research arm RetailX shows that John Lewis has been far from the worst performer in the department store sector…