TWO retailers with flagship stores in the Broadway Shopping Centre in Bradford have reported falling sales over Christmas.

Debenhams unveiled declining sales but said it is still on track to deliver on profit expectations, while Marks & Spencer reported further sales falls in its embattled clothing arm and food halls.

Debenhams saw like-for-like sales dip by 3.4% in the six weeks to January 5, weighed down by the UK where sales were 3.6% lower due to weaker footfall.

But the group defied predictions from the City that it would issue a profit warning over the period.

Digital sales rose 6% in the period, despite a slower start to the peak shopping season.

Chief executive Sergio Bucher said the results were the “best possible outcome” in an uncertain time for retailers.

The company warned that the UK trading environment is still “volatile”, with savvy consumers actively seeking out discounts.

This will result in some erosion of the retailer’s profit margin in the first half, after it slashed prices to keep up with competitors.

Mr Bucher said: “We responded to a significant increase in promotional activity in the market, particularly in key seasonal categories, in order to remain competitive for our customers.

“We have taken decisive steps to maintain rigorous cost and capital discipline, and I am grateful to my colleagues for their hard work as we maintain a rapid pace of change.”

Debenhams has embarked on a major strategic shift, including the shutting of 50 outlets and the launch of a new store design concept.

The company said on Thursday that the new format stores had outperformed other sites, with the strongest sales increase at Stevenage.

Marks & Spencer said like-for-like clothing and home sales dropped 2.4% over the 13 weeks to December 29, while comparable food sales fell 2.1%.

But the group saw shares rise 2% as it stuck to full-year profit guidance in spite of an overall 2.2% drop in UK sales over the quarter.

The performance was worse than expected for its clothing and home division, but slightly better in food - and M&S insisted it was seeing some “encouraging early signs”.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “Against the backdrop of well-publicised difficult market conditions, our performance remained steady across the period.

“Our food business traded successfully over Christmas as customers responded to improved value.”

He added its widespread overhaul remains “on track”.

Tesco unveiled its best set of Christmas trading figures in nearly a decade, with the UK’s biggest retailer lauding promotions on festive staples including vegetables and meat helped.

The grocery giant posted a 2.2% rise in UK like-for-like sales in the six weeks to January 5, outperforming the wider market in all key categories - food, clothing and general merchandise.

The busy reporting day also saw Halfords issue a profit warning after mild weather and weak consumer confidence hit sales.

The car and cycling retailer now expects profit for the 2019 financial year to be between £58 million and £62m. Analysts had been predicting closer to £70m.

Meanwhile, Card Factory has warned that underlying profits for the 2020 financial year are likely to be flat, as it braces for another “difficult” trading period. It comes after a “challenging” Christmas period for the company, with like-for-like sales down 0.5%.

The retailer said it still expects to deliver earnings of between £89 million and £91 million for the current financial year.

Card Factory revenue was up 3.4% in the 11 months to December 31, while like-for-like sales growth was broadly flat at 0.1%.

Bargain retailer B&M saw a tough November hit sales over its Christmas quarter, but said trading bounced back in the crucial final month. The chain reported a 1.6% fall in UK like-for-like revenues over the 13 weeks to December 29 after a “difficult” November.

This compared with a 3.9% sales surge seen a year earlier and left year-to-date comparable UK sales 0.7% lower.

However, B&M said UK comparable sales lifted 1.2% in December, with the improved trading continuing into January.

Martin Lane, managing editor of, said: "Debenhams has truly got their work cut out to rejuvenate their brand and shake its fading image. There's a big question mark over its future – the brand isn’t as meaningful to the great British public as it once was.

"They need to be looking at what consumers want and investing in things like a super slick mobile user experience if they stand a chance of competing in a difficult market.

“It feels like Debenhams aren’t putting up much a fight – if you’ve got gift vouchers with the high street retailer I’d spend them ASAP just to be on the safe side.”