Department store group Debenhams today warned on the full-year outlook for the second time in four months and cut its dividend as it reported a 52% slump in first-half profit. 

The retailer, which issued a profit warning in January, also said Matt Smith, its chief financial officer, was quitting the retailer to become finance chief of rival Selfridges. 

The 240-year old Debenhams is one year into a turnaround programme led by chief executive Sergio Bucher, a former Amazon and Inditex executive. 

His plan to return Debenhams to profit growth involves closing some stores and revamping the rest, cutting promotions and improving its online service, while seeking efficiencies by simplifying the business. 

However, progress has been hampered by a squeeze on UK consumers' budgets, a shift in spending away from fashion towards holidays and entertainment, as well as intense online competition. 

Debenhams made an underlying pretax profit of £42.2m in the 26 weeks to March 3 - below analysts' average forecast of £44m and the £87.8m made in the first half of its 2016-17 year. 

Revenue fell 1.6% to £1.65 billion pounds and the company cut its interim dividend by 51% to 0.5 pence. 

Debenhams said that based on its current view of the second half of the financial year, full-year pretax profit was expected to be at the lower end of the current range of broker forecasts of £50-61m. 

It was previously guiding to £55-65m and made £95.2m in 2016-17.