M&S half-year profits fall 8.9%

Marks & Spencer's half-year profits have fallen by 8.9%. It recorded a ninth consecutive quarter of sliding clothing and homeware sales. It comes on the same day rival Primark enjoyed half-year sales by 22% to £4.3 billion.

Primark hails 'outstanding year' after profits jump 44%

Primark hailed its "outstanding year" today after revealing annual profits had jumped by 44% to £514 million - contrasting the fortunes of high street rival Marks and Spencer.

Primark hailed its "outstanding year". Credit: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

The retailer grew sales by 22% to £4.3 billion in the year to September 30 and the Associated British Foods, which owns Primark as well as leading food brands Twinings and Kingsmill, said it expected another improvement in performance in the current financial year.

The company paid tribute to Primark's buying teams after autumn/winter and spring/summer ranges sold out with little discount, while M&S struggled to kickstart its clothing sales.

Primark has expanded in the UK's major cities with the opening of a second store on London's Oxford Street and extensions to shops in Newcastle and Manchester.

They are also set to open their first store in France, which will be located in Marseille.

Chief 'pleased with M&S progress' despite profits down

Marks & Spencer made progress with a strong performance in Food, International and M&S.com. Our key priority was the re-launch of Womenswear. In September we launched our first new collection with new advertising and improved store formats.

Although only in store for three weeks of the half year, our Autumn/Winter collection has been well received by customers, and we have seen some early signs of improvement.

At the same time we continued to invest in the long term transformation of the business. We are pleased with the progress made, given the high level of activity and a number of key projects launching this year.

This has led to a higher level of additional costs, which while planned for, have impacted short-term results.

– Marc Bolland, Marks and Spencer chief executive

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M&S's pre-tax profits drop by 8.9% in last six months

Marks & Spencer's pre-tax profits dropped by 8.9% to £261.6 million during the six months up to September, with the retailer's star-studded launch of its autumn/winter clothing range hitting its figures.

Marks & Spencer's pre-tax profits dropped by 8.9%. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

The retailer also reported a ninth consecutive quarter of clothing and homeware sales being down and claimed that consumers remain reluctant to spend.

Like-for-like sales in its food business rose 3.2% in its second quarter, however, general merchandise sales dropped 1.3% between July and September.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said its revamp of womenswear was its key priority during the period, and is showing "early signs of improvement".

Marks & Spencer said that while consumer confidence appears to be improving that does not mean it translates into higher spending and added that it was cautious for the rest of the year.