Debenhams set for UK high street with new standalone ‘beauty store’ less than year after Boohoo takeover

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The much-loved department store chain has been online-only since May after being bought by Boohoo

Debenhams looks set to be making a return to the UK high street with a physical store after shutting its final sites earlier this year.

The popular department store chain closed its remaining 12 stores in May as its new owner Boohoo took it online-only.

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But now Boohoo is now hiring staff for a permanent physical store selling beauty products.

What is known about the store?

Online retailer Boohoo acquired Debenhams for £55 million in January this year, but the deal did not include any physical stores and instead saw all sales moved online.

However, the fast fashion retailer is now hiring beauty assistants for a ‘Debenham Beauty’ store that will be based in Manchester.

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While the store location is not listed, rumours suggest it could potentially be based within the Arndale Shopping centre, although this is yet to be confirmed.

The job advert states: "As a beauty assistant, you are an essential part of a team that delivers the extraordinary service our customers expect from Debenhams Beauty.

"Maintaining the highest of retail standards, keeping up to date on product knowledge and replenishing stock, customer service is at the heart of what you do.

"An expert for all things Debenhams Beauty and the go-to person to help our customers, you are fully knowledgeable of everything about the store including the latest trends and services we offer."

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The new store could be the only one of its kind and comes after The Mirror reported back in June that some beauty brands had refused to supply products to Debenhams unless it had a physical store presence.

In response, Boohoo Group chief executive John Lyttle said it would open one store outside of London to address the issue.

Boohoo sales rising after investment

Boohoo has revealed it has doubled its market share in the UK and the US since the start of the pandemic, although profits have plunged due to heavy investment this year.

Sales rose by 20% to £975.9 million in the six months to the end of August compared with a year earlier, but pre-tax profits dropped by 64% to £24.6 million.

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Profits suffered due to higher shipping costs, which were £26 million higher than pre-pandemic levels, while new post-Brexit rules also saw profit margins reduce from 57.8% to 53.6% because of extra checks at customs, the company said.

Bosses also revealed Boohoo took a hit as the percentage of garments sent back has returned to pre-pandemic levels and the easing of lockdown restrictions in the period saw shoppers return to the high street.

However, the brand is confident the rest of the year will be more positive, particularly following heavy investment and integrating new brands, including Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Wallis.

Chief executive John Lyttle said: “We are delighted to have doubled our market share in key markets such as the UK and US, have significantly expanded our target addressable market through selective acquisitions and are excited about the global potential for all of our brands.”

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Looking ahead, Boohoo said it expects stronger sales in the second half of the financial year, although profits could continue to be hit by higher costs, including freight prices and increased wages for staff in distribution centres.

Total spending on infrastructure is now expected to be around £275 million this year, compared with previous estimates of £250 million.

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