By Marcus Leach

Debenhams have reported strong year end results, showing group sales up by 4.5% and profits up for the third year running by 10.0% to £166.1m, proving the high street is still thriving.

It also announced the acceleration of its store modernisation programme and the opening of nine new stores.

The results, the first announced by Debenhams’ new chief executive Michael Sharp, buck recent high street gloom.

The new store and modernisation programme will create 4,050 jobs and further cements the retailer’s commitment to getting Britain working again. It builds on the similar announcement last week when the retailer spoke of creating 6,500 roles in the run up to Christmas.

Debenhams announced that the first 20 of the 45 stores to receive a makeover will be completed in 2012 in the following areas, Chester, Bournemouth, Harrow, Luton, Colchester, Harrogate, Preston, Middlesbrough, Cheltenham, Reading, Northampton, Bedford, Hull, Carlisle, Worthing, Sutton (Surrey), Plymouth, Salisbury, Blackburn and Southend on Sea.

The remainder will be finished by the following year and these further locations will be announced at a later date.

“This is a strong signal that the UK high street is alive and well and we are backing it 100%. It’s great news for job seekers as well as shoppers across the country. It also shows a very real commitment to our clear focus on growing our UK retail business," said Michael Sharp, Chief Executive, Debenhams.

“A mix of refurbishment, new brands and the addition of extra top designer and beauty brands deliver what effectively looks like a new store following a modernisation.

“I’m delighted that over the next few years more customers than ever before will have access to the UK’s top name beauty brands and our exclusive and ever-growing Designer at Debenhams offer."

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness