Debenhams profit edges higher in 'difficult' trading

Debenhams store Debenhams has 161 stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland

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Debenhams has reported profits of £127.1m for the six months to 3 March, up 1.4% on the same period last year.

Like-for-like sales, which strip out new store openings, were up 1.4%.

The department store group described market conditions as "difficult" and said the economic weakness in the UK could hit its performance in the second half of the financial year.

Debenhams said it was in the process of building 14 new stores and was in talks to over 25 other possible sites.

Online sales surged 34% during the first half.

Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said: "It is clearly right to remain cautious about the strength of consumer confidence over the next 12 months given the uncertain economic outlook."

"Overall we are optimistic about our prospects and believe that we have a clear strategy for growth and to meet our aim of being a leading international, multi‐channel retailer."

The company is continuing to expand in emerging markets. During the first half of the year Debenhams opened two stores in the Philippines and one in Iran.

In the second half of the year it plans to open two stores in India and one in Pakistan.

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