A £10m advertising campaign is producing benefits for sales at department store chain Debenhams, the group has said. Following the launch in October of its first TV commercials for 10 years, like-for-like sales, excluding new store space, are now running more than 1.8% above last year. Sales levels had been down 3.4% last autumn. "Initial customer feedback has been very encouraging", said finance director Matthew Roberts. Due to the lateness of Easter and the mid season sale, Debenhams declined to give exact like-for-like sales figures for the period since the half-year. However, Mr Roberts said the underlying growth trend was above the 1.8% figure seen in January and February. The group also reported that pre-tax profits fell to £73.8m in the six months to the end of February from £79.4m in the previous year. Mr Roberts said Debenhams was succeeding in a harsh market place. "We are doing well but the high street is having quite a tough time," he said. "I think things will remain competitive - we expect to see growth but pricing will continue to be important," he added. Debenhams shares rose 7.7% or 12p to 168p in early trading. Analysts said the performance was a good one in the current retail environment