Fall blamed on store refits

Department store Debenhams like-for-like sales fell 5 per cent for the year to September 1, but overall sales were up 5.1 per cent.

In a trading update ahead of next month's full-year results, the retailer said the poor like-for-like performance was caused by the acceleration of its refurbishment programme. Sales were affected at two stores during the first half compared with19 during the second.

Debenhams expects to report profit before tax and exceptionals to be in line with market expectations.

Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman said: “Macro economic factors suggest that the retail environment will be more challenging in the short term, nonetheless we believe that the actions we have implemented across the business position us well for the new financial year.

“The investment in our store portfolio and store opening programme remains on track. Overall, we are confident that the improvements being made to our stores and to our visual merchandising, the product developments outlined above and our recently launched marketing campaign will ensure that the company has a strong platform from which to build.”

Debenhams opened two department stores and four Desire stores in the past 12 months. The retailer has 133 department stores and nine Desire stores trading from 10.3 million sq ft (956,870 sq m) in the UK and Ireland. In addition, Debenhams continues to expand its global presence with 34 international stores, an increase of four from the previous year.

Debenhams will report its preliminary results for the 52 weeks to September 1 on October 23.