UK's Debenhams wary on outlook as profits fall

LONDON Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:16am EDT

LONDON Oct 24 (Reuters) - Debenhams, Britain's second-largest department store retailer by sales, met forecasts with a 2.7 percent fall in year profit that reflected volatile weather conditions, and said it was wary about the outlook for consumer spending.

"Whilst consumer confidence may be showing signs of improvement, we expect that household incomes will remain under pressure from inflation growing ahead of wages," said Chief Executive Michael Sharp.

The 200-year-old group, which trades out of 236 stores across 28 countries, said on Thursday it made a pretax profit of 154 million pounds ($248.98 million) in the year to Aug. 31.

That was in line with analyst expectations but down from the 158.3 million pounds made in the 2011-12 year.

Analyst forecasts had been cut after a profit warning in March that was blamed on January snow. The firm then endured unhelpful spring weather before getting a boost to sales from a summer heatwave.

Full-year sales, announced last month, rose 2.5 percent to 2.78 billion pounds, with sales at stores open over a year up 2.0 percent and gross margin flat.

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