June 20, 2014 / 6:31 AM / 3 years ago

Debenhams' quarterly sales rise slightly

LONDON, June 20 (Reuters) - Britain’s No. 2 department store chain Debenhams said underlying sales rose slightly in its latest trading period, as it shifted its strategy to have fewer days on promotion.

The company, which trails John Lewis in annual sales, said on Friday sales at stores open over a year rose 0.7 percent in the 14 weeks to June 7.

Debenhams’ strategy is to refocus promotional activity to deliver a higher level of full price sales.

Also this year its summer Sale is starting two weeks later than last year, on June 26.

Debenhams maintained its margin guidance for the full year.

First half gross margin fell 100 basis points and in April the firm guided for the full-year to be down 50-70 basis points.

Debenhams has endured a tough 12 months, issuing its second profit warning in less than a year in December and losing its finance chief after a long-held strategy of pushing promotions failed to boost its crucial Christmas sales.

In April the 200-year-old firm reported first half profit down by a quarter and Chief Executive Michael Sharp said he would reduce promotions, make its online business more competitive with more delivery options, redeploy excess store space and speed up international growth.

On Friday it said trials of new concessions including Sports Direct and Costa coffee would start before the year end.

The firm also said it was commencing a debt investor roadshow in relation to a 200 million pounds ($341 million)seven-year bond issue. (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Karolin Schaps)

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