Debenhams sees slim sales rise

DEBENHAMS has reported a marginal rise in Christmas trading figures – and vowed to step up its store refit scheme.

The chain said the 0.1 per cent rise in like-for-like sales for the 18 weeks to 2 January was in line with internal forecasts.

Debenhams said growth was limited by its decision to move away from concessions into own-bought merchandise.

Chief executive Rob Templeman said: "Our continued focus on cash margin means that for the second year in succession we have delivered an increase in profit before tax over the Christmas trading period."

But he warned: "Looking forward, with the rise in VAT and a general election pending, the consumer environment remains uncertain and difficult to predict."

Three new department stores are scheduled to open in Newcastle upon Tyne, Carmarthen and Bury this year.

House of Fraser increased like-for-like sales by 7.1 per cent in the eight weeks to 2 January while John Lewis reported growth of 12.7 per cent in the five weeks to 2 January, in other results in the sector posted this week.