House of Fraser has given an solid update with EBITDA up 16% in the first half of the year.

The department store said like-for-like sales were ahead 1.3% for the first six weeks of the second half, and improvement on first half performance when comparable sales were down 2.7%.

House of Fraser said that trading had improved — second quarter like-for-likes were up 0.5% against first quarter like-for-likes of -6.2%. Softer comparatives are likely to mean the trend continues through the second half.

Gross margin improved by 18 basis points.

House of Fraser said it had made cost savings of around £10m in the first half and that stock was down 19% on a like-for-like basis. It also reduced net debt in the first half by £21m to £293m.

Singer Capital analyst Matthew McEachran said that the results would diffuse speculation that rival Debenhams would make a “low-ball” bid for the group.