Department store chain Debenhams warned yesterday that the consumer climate would be ‘more challenging’ in the short term. The Independent. The Times. Financial Times. The Daily Telegraph

Debenhams, which has been at the centre of bid speculation since its stock market return, forecast a 5% fall in like-for-like sales over the full year, but said profits would be in line with expectations of £130m.

Finance director Chris Woodhouse said: ‘It is quite difficult for the consumer at the moment, and who knows what the fall-out is going to be from what is going on in the financial markets. I certainly think it is going to be difficult for the next six to nine months.’

Total sales for the year to 1 September rose by 5.1%, boosted by four international store openings.

Debenhams operates from 133 stores and is set to open a further 10 this year.