Could Mike Ashley bring in customers to save Debenhams?

Stephan ShakespeareCEO and Co-Founder
December 09, 2020, 2:41 PM UTC

Consideration for the struggling department store is higher among current and former customers of House of Fraser, which is part of Mike Ashley’s Fraser’s Group

2020 has been a tough year for retail but Debenhams has been hit particularly hard, with several of its stores closing their doors in May. Now, liquidators have been brought in to start clearing stock with plans to close all remaining stores for good by next March.

However, Mike Ashley’s Fraser’s Group has announced it is working on a last-minute stay of execution for troubled department store chain. Ashley is a former shareholder in Debenhams and has bought out other struggling high street businesses in the past.

YouGov data lets us explore how some of Mike Ashley’s existing customer base, which includes rival department store House of Fraser, could keep Debenhams afloat. Looking at its YouGov BrandIndex Consideration Score (which measures whether someone would consider purchasing from the brand in future) among current and former House of Fraser customers shows a notable uptick in the later part of this year.

Among these House of Fraser shoppers, consideration for Debenhams hit a peak score of 40.7 on November 29th (up 13.4 points from early October) and currently stands at 37.6. This is 15.2 points higher than the Consideration score among the general public. The Consideration score among the general public has also remained fairly constant since September, with only a slight drop-off this month

However, this is not to say that Brits who have shopped with House of Fraser are not aware of Debenhams’ predicament. In fact, our data suggests quite the opposite as Debenhams’ Buzz score – which measures whether people have heard anything positive or negative about the brand in the past two weeks – is lower among House of Fraser customers than among the population as a whole.

Among House of Fraser customers, Debenhams’ Buzz score has fallen by 10.2 points since the start of the December, compared to a drop of 6.4 points among the general public.

This suggests that, for now at least, shoppers may not be put off by the negative press coverage surrounding the brand, and, with many Brits still yet to complete their Christmas shopping, there could still be a light at the end of the tunnel for Debenhams.

This article previously appeared in CityAM

Learn more about YouGov BrandIndex here