People walk past Debenhams department store on Oxford Street, in central London. Retailers have started offering discount ahead of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas. (Photo: REUTERS/Ki Price)
Profit before tax was up by 4.8% to £88.9mPhoto: REUTERS/Ki Price

British department store Debenhams posted better than expected results which led to a sharp increase in the value of its shares.

Profit before tax in the six months leading up to 28 February was up by 4.8% to £88.9m ($132.7m, €123.8m), helped along by a 1.8% increase in like-for-like sales and a 12.7% jump in online transactions.

Net debt for the company was slashed by over £70m in the course of its financial year, leaving it £297.3m in the red.

Chief executive Michael Sharp said: "We have improved our multi-channel offer and successfully introduced the premium delivery options that we promised for the important peak period, which met with a positive response from our customers.

"Overall we delivered a good first half performance despite a difficult clothing season in Autumn and we are on track to achieve full year expectations."

Debenhams' shares fell sharply in January after it revealed that sales had fallen by 0.8%, however, today's results have buoyed its stock valuation as they jumped by around 5% in early morning trading and continue to hover around the 83.50 mark.