Debenhams sales rise as profits 'set to grow'

Debenhams store Debenhams trades out of 240 stores in 28 countries

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Department store Debenhams has reported a rise in sales despite what it calls "extremely challenging market conditions".

Like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of new stores, rose by 3.3% in the six months to 1 September.

The company said it expected full-year pre-tax profits to be ahead of last year.

Rival John Lewis has also performed well in recent months, a time when many retailers across the UK have struggled.

"I am delighted with our strong performance and the progress we have made in 2012," said Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp.

"To deliver like-for-like sales growth in these extremely challenging market conditions is highly creditable. We do not anticipate a significant change in the economic environment in the near future but we expect to continue to make progress in 2013."

The company said online sales had risen by 40% in the past 12 months, well ahead of the market as a whole. International sales were also growing, it added.

Neil Saunders, managing director of retail analysts Conlumino, said promotions and store refurbishments had helped Debenhams to "buck the market this summer and gain market share across a number of clothing categories".

Debenhams is continuing to expand in emerging markets, and has recently opened two stores in the Philippines and one in Iran.

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