Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman is to retire later this year and hand the reins to his deputy, Michael Sharp.

Templeman, who has led Debenhams for eight years, will continue as a consultant to the department store group for up to a year after his retirement at the end of this financial year. Sharp will formally take over on September 5.

News of the management succession came as Debenhams posted interim results showing headline pre-tax profit before exceptional up 4.5% to £129.2m in the 26 weeks to February 26. Gross transaction value – which includes concessions – rose 3.2% to £1.46bn and like-for likes, excluding VAT, fell 1.5%.

Debenhams chairman Nigel Northridge said: “Rob Templeman has made a huge contribution to Debenhams over the past eight years and the board is grateful for the leadership he continues to show.

“We are delighted that Michael Sharp will succeed Rob, which will ensure contunuity of management and strategy. Michael’s commitment to and knowledge of Debenhams are second to none and he has played a key role in managing the business at the highest level.”

Templeman said: “I will remain fully engaged in managing the business until I pass on the baton to Michael and look forward to continuing my involvement for another year after that as Michael and the board see fit.”

Sharp became group trading director of Debenhams in 1997, chief operating officer in 2004 and deputy chief executive in 2008.

Templeman said he was pleased with Debenhams’ first-half performance. The retailer has delivered six consecutive halves of profit growth despite tough high street conditions.

He said: “The trading environment has been difficult but our focus on profit and cash generation has continued to deliver returns. Looking forward, there are some encouraging signs that commodity prices such as cotton may fall, which could be good for both consumers and retailers in terms of pricing.”