Debenhams set to post 50% drop in profits

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Investors are braced this week for Debenhams to post halved profits after the department store group did poorly over Christmas and was forced to close stores in March because of extreme weather.

Debenhams is set to unveil interim pre-tax profits of £44 million on Thursday, down from £87.8m in the same period of the previous year, say City analysts.

Consensus estimates also forecast a 2.5 per cent decline in like-for-like sales. Debenhams issued a profit warning in early January after the disappointing festive period, sending its shares down 20 per cent.

In the final week of the half, trading was hit by the so-called “Beast from the East”, the first of two snowstorms that froze the UK in March.

George Salmon, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Being lumbered with large high street stores isn’t really a position you’d want to be in with online taking a share at a rapid pace.”