Debenhams results bring retail cheer

Kasmira Jefford
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DEPARTMENT store group Debenhams has posted a “resilient” sales performance for the first half of the year, providing a glimmer of hope that rising consumer confidence may be coming to the aid of high street spending.

Chef executive Michael Sharp, who replaced Rob Templeman last year, said a successful January sale and the popularity of its Designers at Debenhams brands helped the new season get off to an encouraging start.

The retailer, which runs 170 stores in the UK, Ireland and Denmark as well as 66 franchised outlets in 25 countries, said like-for-like sales rose 2.4 per cent in the first eight weeks of 2012.

Sales at stores open more than a year rose by 0.3 per cent in the 26 weeks to 3 March.

It maintained its guidance of flat gross margin for the full year, though it fell 30 basis points in the first half.

Sharp said that while “it is prudent remain cautious about the health of the wider economy”, the group was comfortable in its outlook for the rest of the year.