Belfast Telegraph

Marks & Spencer's annual profits fall again

By Alex Lawson

Marks & Spencer has reported a third consecutive year of falling profits, putting pressure on chief executive Marc Bolland's position at the helm of the high street giant.

The retailer today posted a 3.9 per cent fall in underlying profits before tax to £623 million in the year to March 29 with general merchandise (GM) - which includes clothing - seeing like-for-like sales fall by 1.4 per cent though food improved by 1.7 per cent.

Bolland said GM was showing "early signs of improvement", with investment being ploughed in to transform the business.

The results were slightly better than expectations and the retailer vowed to cut costs and improve margins next year after it slashed prices at Christmas.

Bolland said: "Three years ago, we recognised the scale of investment required to transform our business, investing to strengthen our foundations and improve our customer offer.

"We are making solid progress on this journey and are now focused on delivery."

However, M&S warned that a new website launched earlier this year was taking time to "settle in" and would have some impact on GM sales in the weeks since the end of the financial year.

International sales rose 6.2 per cent as the retailer performed strongly in India and China. M&S added: “While trading in the Republic of Ireland continued to be difficult, performance in our European business improved and we took full control of our Czech and Eastern European business.

"Our franchise business across the Middle East and Asia continued to perform well.”

Source: Independent

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