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Debenhams gets profits boost

Profits at Debenhams rose 11.5% to £131.4m for the 52 weeks to September 1, as sales rose to £2.3 billion thanks to new store openings.

The company added 792,000 sq ft of space during the period, helping to boost sales. But like for like sales at the retailer were down 5% for the period. However lfls for the seven weeks to October 20 were up 2.1%, excluding the nine Roches stores in Ireland which have been converted.

Chief executive Rob Templeman said: "Despite wider concerns about the macro economic environment and how this will impact on the retail sector, we are confident that the changes we are making throughout Debenhams are benefiting the business. Our growth in like for like sales and gross margin have both been positive for the first seven weeks of the new financial year even though there has been some disruption from the accelerated refurbishment programme. We have also seen growth in market share over the past 12 weeks according to the latest TNS data."

He added that autumn winter ranges had been well received and that investment in a new IT platform and distribution centre was improving the shopping experience.

Sales rose 5.1% to £2.305bn over the year. Headline profit before tax and a non-cash debt free write off of £3.9m.

Gross margin was down 90 basis points.

The company plans 29 stores over the next four years. Nine stores were refurbished this year with another 12 planned before Christmas.

Debenhams has 142 stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland. There are nine smaller format Desire by Debenhams stores, with a further four planned for next year.

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