Debenhams enjoyed "an encouraging start to the new season", the company said this morning in a first-half trading update.

Debenhams encouraged by first-half sales growth

Debenhams enjoyed “an encouraging start to the new season”, the company said this morning in a first-half trading update.

Debenhams encouraged by first-half sales growth

Group gross transaction value for the 26 weeks to March 3 2012 was up 1.4%, while a resilient finish to the half saw like-for-like sales increase by 2.4% in the last eight weeks of the period.

This resulted in group like-for-like sales growth of 1.4% including VAT (0.3% excluding VAT) for the period as a whole.

Debenhams said that the strength of the last eight weeks of the half had been down to a successful winter sale and an encouraging start to the new season. The spring marketing campaign under the Life Made Fabulous theme was launched in mid-February and had been well received by customers.

The retailer’s chief executive, Michael Sharp, said he was “pleased with our performance in the first half, which resulted in like-for-like sales growth despite challenging conditions across the retail sector.

“Our priority in the second half is to continue executing our strategy, centred on the four pillars of focusing on UK retail, delivering a compelling customer proposition, increasing availability and choice through multi-channel and expanding the brand internationally.”

He went on: “Whilst it is prudent to remain cautious about the health of the wider economy and the impact this may have on consumer behaviour in the short-term, we remain comfortable with the outlook for the full year.”

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