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Sales slump after poor Xmas

Debenhams’ profits plunge amid ‘profound change’

DebenhamsStores in crisis: Debenhams’ boss says retail is facing ‘profound change’

Debenhams has reported a plunge in half-year profits as the bloodbath on the high street continues.

Interim profits came in 84.6% lower at £13.5 million as the department store chain said that its results for the six months to 3 March were affected by severe weather which temporarily closed almost 100 stores.

The company also suffered a disappointing Christmas season which saw an increase in competitor discounting.

Like-for-like sales fell by 2.2% and total sales dipped by 1.6% to £1.6bn.

Aside from the bad weather, chief executive Sergio Bucher, said that the UK retail environment “is undergoing profound change”.

He said: “With the help of some important new senior hires, we are moving faster and working harder than ever to ensure Debenhams is well-placed to outperform in this new retail world.

“We expect no help from the external environment, so we are focused on delivering our Debenhams Redesigned strategy, aiming to mitigate difficult trading conditions through self-help initiatives.”

Mr Bucher added:  “We approach the remainder of the year mindful of the very challenging market conditions, but with confidence that we have a strong team and the right plan to navigate them and return Debenhams to profitable growth.”

Matt Smith, CFO, is leaving the group to become finance director at Selfridges. A search has begun for his successor.

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