Debenhams gains ground

Like for like sales down slightly in interim results, but retailer makes gains in all major clothing categories.
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Debenhams' chief executive has said that he is pleased with the retailer's sales performance for the 26 weeks ended March 1st, particularly against the backdrop of a tough retail marketplace.

Like for like sales fell by 0.7 per cent during the half, reflecting the trading conditions across the retail sector, although gross transaction value grew by 1.2 per cent.

Headline profit before tax was £94.1 million for the first half of the year, down on £107.4 million for the first half of 2007.

However, Debenhams saw market share gains in all major clothing categories, with a particularly strong performance from Designers at Debenhams.

Within menswear, the new Fairtrade collection in conjunction with Sir Steve Redgrave has shown an encouraging start, while the Baker by Ted Baker children's wear collection (which is in 70 stores) has seen sales density significantly higher than core children's ranges.

The performance of the Home division has also improved after a slow start, with the Designer business showing good growth across soft and accessory categories.

A number of new stores are due to be opened going forward, including a new flagship outlet in Liverpool next month and one in White City towards the end of the year.

"We expect the trading environment to remain challenging so we will continue to focus on the areas of our business that are within our control: making further improvements to our own bought products and providing customers with a pleasing shopping experience," said chief executive Rod Templeman.

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