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M&S shares fall after reporting profits down again

M&S profits were down 3.9% to £623 million. Credit: Press Association Images/Peter Byrne

Marks & Spencer saw its shares fall by 2% in early trading on the back of a fall in profits in the last year.

Chief executive Marc Bolland, who has been in the job for three years, told investors last year that the prospect of better returns within a year was no "fairytale".

M&S chief: 'We're making solid progress'

Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland said progress was being made. Credit: Press Association Images/John Stillwell

M&S chief executive Marc Bolland said the company was making "good progress" despite reporting a fall in profits for the third year in a row, down 3.9% to £623 million.

"We are focused on improving our performance in general merchandise and were pleased to see early signs of improvement," he said.

He added that the progress would take time given the revamp to the company's website which was impacting on clothing sales.

"We are making solid progress on this journey and are now focused on delivery," Mr Bolland added.

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Supermarket staff alcohol service policies compared

Tesco said it made "no sense" for staff who refuse to touch items for religious reasons to work on a till. Credit: PA

Sainsbury's guidelines say that there is no reason why staff who don't drink alcohol or eat pork on religious grounds could not handle them, the newspaper said, while Tesco said it made "no sense" for staff who refuse to touch items for religious reasons to work on a till.

An Asda spokesman said it did not have such a policy in place, "but if any colleague had a serious concern about anything then we'd look at that on a case-by-case basis".

Morrisons would "respect and work around anyone's wishes not to handle specific products for religious or cultural reasons", the Telegraph said.

M&S 'offers inclusive, secular environment for employees'

A Marks & Spencer said it apologised for the "confusion" caused by what it described as an "isolated incident" but maintained that its policy would be to employ religious staff in more suitable positions.

Customer service is our number one priority. We regret that in the highlighted case this was not delivered to our usual standards.

We would like to apologise for any resulting confusion and reassure our customers that this was an isolated incident.

M&S offers an inclusive, secular environment for employees and customers, working closely with any employee with religious beliefs of any denomination that restrict specific food or drink handling.

We aim to manage this so that all employees work in departments that allow them to offer great customer service at all times.

Requests are considered on a case by case basis and may lead to an individual working in a department where conflicts wouldn't arise, such as in clothing or bakery in foods.

This policy has been successfully implemented over many years and does not compromise our ability to offer the highest level of customer service.

– Marks & Spencer

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M&S apology after religious staff refusal to sell alcohol

One Marks & Spencer customer was "taken aback" when a Muslim staff member declined to sell alcohol. Credit: PA

Marks & Spencer has apologised after a Muslim member of staff refused to sell a customer alcohol.

The retailer said that where employees have religious beliefs that restrict what foods or drinks they can handle, it would usually try to place them in a "suitable role".

A statement said that in this case its customer service "was not delivered to our usual standards" and apologised "for any resulting confusion" but insisted its staff policy remained the same.

The issue arose after an unnamed customer at a London store told the Telegraph they were "taken aback" when an "extremely apologetic" Muslim checkout worker asked for them to wait for another till to become available.

Your say: Has Marks & Spencer lost its shine?

Full-year profits at Marks & Spencer fell to £665 million, their lowest level in four years. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire/

We requested your response to Marks & Spencer's fall profits on our Facebook page, asking has the once High Street favourite lost its shine?

Many of the responses suggested the retailer's pricing was deterring customers.

Clive Templar said "items are far too expensive", while Steve Smith urged the shop to "lower your prices".

It seems few of you were surprised that M&S would suffer a significant slump in clothing sales, while seeing food sales rise.

"Foods nice," Vanessa Ashton said, but added that she "can get nicer, cheaper, good fitting clothes from lots of other stores!"

Margaret Fenwick agreed that the firm had lost clothing customers to other shops, blaming "cheaper quality and inferior goods".

Louise Linter said she preferred M&S when it "sold more classic styles".

However, there was still support for the traditional retailer.

Colin Smith said he would definitely continue to shop at a "great British institution" while Simon Jobson said: "I do love the food there."

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