Debenhams beats forecasts

People walk past Debenhams department store on Oxford Street,
People walk past Debenhams department store on Oxford Street,

Debenhams, Britain's second-largest department store group​​, said it ​i​s close to naming a new boss as it beat forecasts with an 5.5 per​ ​cent rise in first-half profit, putting it on track to meet full-year expectations.

Last October Michael Sharp announced he planned to step down as chief executive at some point in 2016 after five years in the job.

Debenhams said he formally submitted his resignation to the board on Thursday.

He will continue as CEO until his successor is confirmed to ensure a smooth handover.

Debenhams said it made an underlying pretax profit of ​£​93.8​m in the six months to Feb​ruary​ 27.

That was ahead of analysts' average forecast of ​£​91​m and the ​£​88.9​m it made a year earlier.

Sales rose 1.6 per​ ​cent to ​£​1.63​bn, with ​like-for-like ​sales up 1.1 per​ ​cent.

The better performance reflects less discounting, fewer promotions, a decrease in the proportion of clothing in the overall product mix, and online service improvements.

“Although there is plenty more to do, we are on track to deliver full-year results in line with market expectations," said ​Mr ​Sharp.