Britain’s second biggest department store chain said in a trading update on Tuesday that like for like sales, excluding VAT, were up 0.3pc for the 26 weeks to March 3. During the last eight weeks of this period, like-for-like sales jumped 2.4pc, allowing the high street stalwart to end the half year in positive territory after previously reporting flat sales for the 18 weeks to January 7. Michael Sharp, chief executive of Debenhams, said the company would nevertheless maintain a “remorseless” focus on its strategy of growing internationally and through different channels as he warned of no \"material\" improvement in sentiment on the high street. Despite surveys to suggest the economic outlook has improved marginally since the start of the year, Mr Sharp said he was remaining cautious. “I have seen no material change in consumer confidence since we last reported on January 8. We are assuming no positive benefits from any changes in the economic situation for the balance of this financial year,” he said.