Debenhams Plc has released its interim results for the 26 weeks ended 1 March 2008. The retailer said that its like-for-like sales fell marginally by 0.7 per cent in the period, but were up 1.0 per cent in the 32 weeks to 12 April 2008.

Despite higher prices the company recorded a drop in pre-tax profit to £94.1 million, compared to £107.4 million in the same period last year.

Debenhams said that its net debt had been reduced in the period by £37.2 million down to £979.3 million. The retailer's interim dividend per share was unchanged at 2.5 pence per share.

In the last half year Debenhams opened three new department stores, re-sited two department stores and opened one new Desire store, representing a net growth of 107,000 sq ft in space growth. The company also opened seven new international stores.

Rob Templeman, chief executive of Debenhams, said, Against the backdrop of a tough retail marketplace, I am pleased with our sales performance for the first half relative to the sector which has resulted in market share gains across our core clothing categories. We have been particularly pleased with the sales from our exclusive Designers at Debenhams ranges where our continued emphasis on design, quality and value has been recognised by customers.

We expect the trading environment to remain challenging so we will continue to focus on the areas of our business that are within our control; making further improvements to our own bought products and providing customers with a pleasing shopping experience.

In the second half we look forward to the opening of our flagship store in

Liverpool in May and, further ahead, to another flagship store in White City

towards the end of 2008.