Debenhams says warmer summer helped sales

Debenhams store sign Debenhams warned that it was not expecting any rapid recovery in consumer confidence

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Department store group Debenhams has reported an increase in sales helped by warmer weather and new fashion ranges.

Like-for-like sales - which strip out the impact of new stores - increased by 1.9% in the three months to 31 August, and rose 2% over the full year.

Online sales jumped 46.2%, and Debenhams said it had gained market share in womenswear and beauty ranges.

In April, Debenhams reported a fall in half-year profits after trading was hit by snowstorms in January.

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'Back in the pack'

Michael Sharp, chief executive of Debenhams, said he was pleased with the company's performance, and particularly with the growth of its online business.

He added: "Looking forward, we are confident in our strategy but are not expecting any rapid recovery in consumer sentiment and the marketplace remains highly competitive."

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said the results were broadly reassuring.

But he pointed out its rival chain John Lewis's reputation as the nation's premium department store remained unchallenged, and that Marks and Spencer continued to threaten a return to growth.

"For now, and following an impressive recovery from its debt-laden private equity past, Debenhams is now back amongst the pack," he said.

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