Debenhams like-for-like sales for its first half to February 28 were 3.6 per cent lower than last year on total sales up 0.3 per cent.

The department store chain said that own-bought ranges, particularly Designers as Debenhams, have achieved good sales growth and that own-bought sales have helped to buoy first half gross margin, which the retailer said would be higher than last year.

Debenhams said first half profit before tax and EBITDA would also be ahead of the previous year.

There was no mention in the statement of a rights issue, with reports this morning suggesting Debenhams scrapped those plans after its biggest shareholders failed to secure a deal with lenders to cut Debenhams'£900m debt.

Debenhams is now believed to be exploring alternative plans to raise fresh debt from institutions outside of its core banking syndicate.

Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman said: "We are pleased with our performance during the first half of the year given the extremely difficult trading conditions experienced across the high street.

"We have continued to grow our top line and to take market share as consumers increasingly recognise the great value in terms of quality, price and design that our products and especially Designers at Debenhams deliver.”

He added: "We have said previously that our main focus is on cash profit rather than just sales and our increase in profits during the first half despite the environment is testament to this aim and to the close management of resources throughout the business.”