Debenhams Plc, the department stores group, has reported that total sales for the Christmas period rose 4.4 per cent more than the previous year.

The four weeks ending January 5 also saw like for like sales go up 2.2 per cent on the previous year.

The group reported that total sales in the 18 weeks ending January 5 were up 2 per cent over the previous year, while like for like sales in the period remained flat. This was attributed to poor general market conditions across the sector earlier in the period.

Since the beginning of the year Debenhams has opened three new stores, resited two and opened one Desire store. The total number of Debenhams Plc stores is now 146 in the UK and Ireland, up from 139 at the beginning of last year.

The fragile state of consumer confidence leads us to view the future with caution and we are running the business on the basis that market conditions will remain difficult, Rob Templeman, the Chief Executive of Debenhams said.

To this end, we are focusing more on our designer credentials, which we believe will be more resilient in this environment, as well as managing our cost base, the speed of our refit and capital expenditure programs and our inventory levels tightly.