M&S profits fall by 1%

Marks and Spencer has reported a 1% fall in annual profits to £705.9 million for the year to March 31 - its first drop in three years.

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M&S: 'We have performed well in a challenging environment'

Marks and Spencer Chief Executive said the retail giant had performed well in the tough economic conditions of the last year.

Marks & Spencer performed well in a challenging economic environment, growing group sales by 2% and holding market share. [...]

We managed the business prudently with tight control of costs and capital investment, delivering earnings in line with last year, and substantial efficiency savings in our capital investment plans.

He outlined plans for further expansion internationally, and online.

Whilst the economic environment has deteriorated since we first set out our strategic plans, we have made significant progress.

Our UK pilot stores are delivering good results, which has given us the confidence to launch phase two of the programme.[...]By the end of this year we will be transacting from 10 websites worldwide and opening around 100 international stores per year.

– Marks and Spencer Chief Executive Marc Bolland


M&S look to busy summer to help re-boost profits

A Marks and Spencer sign is seen outside a branch of the store, in London Credit: Reuters

Marks & Spencer Group Plc is forecast to report a 3% fall in pre-tax profits to £694 million in the year to the end of March, while sales are likely to be around £9.9 billion.

Mr Bolland is expected to step back from his goal to boost sales to between £11.2 billion and £12.2 billion by 2014 as the economic headwinds show no sign of abating.

The squeeze on household incomes in the UK, where M&S has 700 stores, is likely to take some of the blame for the weaker performance, but a failure to keep up with its rivals in clothing, such as Next and Primark, is also at the root of its problems.

Nick Bubb, independent retail analyst, said: "In all, he has not delivered the sales he needs with his three-year target. The focus is on whether he will admit that the year has started badly."

The group has said its prospects look brighter as the Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012 football championships and Olympics will play into its hands by giving cause for celebration over the summer.

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