Department store retailer Debenhams Plc today (30 June) hailed a "good trading performance" in its second half so far and said it expects pre-tax profits to be in line with expectations.

The retailer, which operates 169 stores in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Denmark as well as 64 international franchise stores in 25 countries, said like-for-like sales in the 17 weeks to 25 June rose 3%. Excluding VAT, gains were 1.5%.

Strong sales of fashion lines such as its Designers at Debenhams range were attributed to this growth, although it has taken a hit on gross margin by cutting prices and increasing promotions to drive revenues.

"We have been particularly pleased with the sales trends that we have experienced over the past two months," the company said. It added: "Although there is cost pressure on our supply chain, we are managing input inflation well by taking action such as the realignment of range architecture." 

In the year-to-date period, online, instore ordering and mobile sales were up by 77.0%, while its Danish department store Magasin du Nord saw like-for-like sales up 6.2% on a sterling basis.

"We are continuing to make progress despite significant headwinds in the sector and are pleased with the performance of the business in the year so far," noted chief executive Rob Templeman.

"Looking forward, we remain cautious about the consumer environment and will continue to focus on growing cash margin through our self-help strategy of investing in our store portfolio, developing a seamless multi-channel business and managing our supply chain effectively."