Figures in line with expectations
Debenhams unveiled an upbeat trading update today strengthened by a burgeoning store portfolio.

The department store chain posted a 0.5 per cent increase in like-for-like sales over the year to September 2. Sales increased by 6.6 per cent over the period, helped along by new openings at Doncaster and Workington. Debenhams chief executive Rob Templemann said: 'We are pleased with our performance and remain well placed as we enter the new financial year.'

Debenhams said gross margins improved over the period as expected and that on October 24 the group is expected to report preliminary results showing pre-tax profits in line with expectations.

Templeman added: 'Although, as widely reported, the retail market was challenging in the early part of the summer, there are signs that trading conditions are improving.'

Debenhams listed on the London Stock Exchange in May of this year. The department store chain floated at the lower end of expectations, with the price set at 195p a share, valuing the company at£1.68 billion.

The group plans to open 25 outlets and a further three Desire stores to drive growth.

In August, the group agreed to buy nine outlets in the Republic of Ireland from Roches Stores. The stores will be converted to the Debenhams fascia during the current financial year. The acquisition took the Debenhams store portfolio in the UK and Ireland to 131 shops.