Profit warning knocks shares in Debenhams

Kasmira Jefford
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SHARES in Britain’s second biggest department store group Debenhams fell almost 15 per cent yesterday after the company issued a shock profit warning, blaming January’s bad weather.

The group said trading in January was “severely disrupted” by the snow, with UK like-for-like sales down by around 10 per cent in the period from 14 to 27 January.

As a result it said it now expected pre-tax profit for the 26 weeks to 2 March to be around £120m. This compares with analysts’ forecasts of around £130m.

The retailer said it stepped up promotions for Valentine’s Day and the half-term break in a bid to recover lost sales but said it failed to fully make up turnover lost to the snow and also came at a cost to its profit margins.

Sales at stores open over a year grew by around three per cent in the 26 weeks to 2 March.

“Whilst the impact of the snow on the outcome for the first half is disappointing, it is now behind us and sales volumes have recovered,” said chief executive Michael Sharp.