Major UK retailers are reporting a slight increase in consumer confidence and signalling intentions to invest. Supermarket Morrison and newsagents chain WH Smith have reported slight increases in sales, whilst department store Debenhams has reported an increase in the value of its sales.
"Morrisons continues to grow strongly," said Marc Bolland the Morrisons supermarket chain chief executive. Morrisons reported an 8.2 per cent increase in sales to the 13 weeks to May 3 in a statement ahead of the annual general meeting of the company.
Since arriving at Morrisons from the brewing industry Bolland has been pushing the company to renew its IT infrastructure through a £110 million programme that will see it move away from bespoke systems to off-the-shelf software and moving the Morrisons financial, payroll and supply chain systems onto a standard platform.
WH Smith said in an interim management statement that group sales for the first 13 weeks of the second half were up by one per cent, but like-for-like sales were down by four per cent. Analysts expected sales figures from WH Smith to be a lot worse, so the company is buoyed by the latest results and said it was confident its full year results would be healthy.
WH Smith IT Director Peter Swann has been overseeing an increased focus on outsourcing user testing and BT Expedite manages the store IT systems and the delivery of new technology to stores. WH Smith is pursuing a savings programme that has targeted £11m in savings over a three year period.
Debenhams, the department store chain also announced today that it hopes to raise £323m in a share sale that will reduce its £900m debts. The store said like-for-like sales are down by 0.8 per cent for the 12 weeks to May 23, but said that the value of its sales was up by three per cent. Debenhams recently announced ambitious expansion plans and a new deal with CA. Project management applications are being installed by CA to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
Yesterday the Nationwide Consumer Confidence index reported that consumer confidence was at its highest since November.