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DebenhamFurnitureJCDepartment store retailer Debenhams is to introduce interest free credit as part of a plan to galvanise furniture sales across its stores and online.


The introduction of IFC—scheduled to happen ahead of the peak Christmas trading period—is part of the retailer’s wider plan to lessen its reliance on promotions and price cuts.


It hopes the launch of IFC will give furniture sales a fillip by encouraging shoppers to spend more but spread their payments over a longer time period.


Furniture is an important category for the retailer, which has just launched its first furniture programme designed by Jasper Conran (see image, above) for its autumn/winter 2015 collection.


Debenhams made the statement as its released full year numbers for the year to 29th August and announced the departure—planned for 2016—of its chief executive Michael Sharp.


Worldwide sales—including concessions—were up 1.3 per cent to £2.86bn with statutory revenue inching 0.4 per cent ahead to £2.32bn.


Online sales increased by 11.4 per cent to £388.2m, accounting for 13.6 per cent of total sales in FY 2015, up from 12.3 per cent the previous year. Debenhams said it had made significant progress in improving the online customer journey, with improved landing pages and navigation in key categories such as furniture.


Its focus on less promotional activity fed through to the bottom line, with pre-tax profit up 7.3 per cent to £113.5m. Net debt was cut to £319.8m (2014: £361.5m).


CEO Michael Sharp intends to remain in post through Christmas and into early 2016 and will assist the retailer’s board in finding his successor.