CORRECTED-Debenhams says trade hit by January snow

Mon Mar 4, 2013 2:54am EST

(Corrects period in 3rd par to Jan 14-27)

LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) - Debenhams, Britain's second biggest department store group, said trading in January was affected by snow, with a consequent impact on first half profit.

The firm said on Monday it now expected profit for the first half of its financial year to be around 120 million pounds ($180 million).

It said that while sales at stores open over a year grew by about 3 percent in the 26 weeks to March 2, during the snow-affected period of Jan. 14-27 UK like-for-like sales were down by about 10 percent.

It said gross margin for the first half will be about 20 basis points lower than last year.

It said for the full-year gross margin was more likely to be flat than the 10 basis points increase previously guided to. ($1 = 0.6662 British pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; edited by Paul Sandle)