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Debenhams on target with pre-tax profits

UK department store operator Debenhams expects to deliver previously targeted pre-tax profits for the financial year just ended after sales activity at its outlets picked up during its fourth quarter.

The second biggest department store operator in the UK after Marks & Spencer, Debenhams said in a trading statement that group like-for-like sales rose 1.9pc in the 10 weeks to the end of August and were up 2pc for the financial year.

Chief executive Michael Sharp said he was pleased with the performance, adding: "We have succeeded in growing both like-for-like sales and market share in a competitive market where consumers' disposable income remains under pressure."

Online revenue at the business rose 46pc in its financial year, giving Debenhams a 3.7pc share of the overall online market in its segment.

The chain struggled in the UK last winter when snow kept consumers at bay.

Its shares plunged over 15pc in one day after it said sales in January declined 10pc.

"Robust trading over the last quarter should go some way to reassuring investors that the Debenhams proposition continues to appeal to customers," said Eithne O'Leary, an analyst at Oriel Securities.

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