Debenhams suffers plunge in first-half profits

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Department store group Debenhams today reported a 24.5 per cent slide in profits for the first half of its financial year amid tough competition on the high street.

The retailer posted a pre-tax profit of £85.2 million for the six months to 1 March, down from £112.8m a year earlier, as a squeeze on margins offset a 1.7 per cent rise in revenues to £1.3 billion.

Chief executive Michael Sharp said: “Whilst this has been a challenging first half, we are clear on the issues and are taking decisive action to address them.

“In particular we are focused on building a more competitive multi-channel offer for our customers and improving the operational effectiveness of the overall business.”

The interim dividend, to be paid on 4 July, was held steady at 1p a share and Sharp said the total dividend for the year is likely to remain unchanged at 3.4p.