UK department store chain Debenhams has posted a 16.2% fall in full year pre-tax profit to GBP110.1m (US$187.1m), from GBP131.4m last year, in what the company describes as "a difficult trading environment."

The company's like-for-like sales were down 0.9%, but its total revenue for the financial year rose 4.0% to GBP1.84bn from GBP1.77bn.

Debenhams managed to reduce its debt to GBP994m from GBP1.01bn a year ago.

It also achieved market share gains in all major clothing categories and a total clothing share gain of 0.3%, according to TNS sources for the 26 weeks to 17 August 2008.

This was partly due to strong performance from its Designers at Debenhams concept and extensive changes to simplify its women's wear ranges, the retailer said.

During the fiscal year, which ended on 30 August, Debenhams opened seven new department stores, three re-sited department stores and one Desire store. It plans to open 11 new stores over the next three years.

Online sales at Debenhams Direct, meanwhile, rose 60.8% for the year.

Rob Templeman, chief executive of Debenhams, said: "The market share gains, alongside our strategic objectives of focusing on product design, quality and value, demonstrate that our products are finding favour with customers.

"In 2009 we will drive the business forward by continuing to focus on product design, quality and value and on the important differentiation provided by our exclusive Designers at Debenhams ranges.

"At the same time we will invest prudently in higher returning projects such as new stores."

In its outlook, the company said that its gross transaction value for the six weeks to 11 October 2008 was 1% lower than last year.

Like-for-like sales for the period were down 4.2% on the previous year.