By Jonathan Davies

Debenhams has reported better-than-expected profits for the first half of its financial year.

The department store chain reported a 4.3% rise in profits to £88.9 million, compared with the same period last year.

Debenhams said an 12.7% rise in online sales were a large part of the growth. And it also cut its debt from £62.4m, to £297.3m.

"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," said chief executive Michael Sharp.

"We are continuing to plan prudently in the near term, while remaining focused on our strategic priorities."