British retailer Marks & Spencer reports a rise in profits

British retailer Marks & Spencer reports a rise in profits”

Marks & Spencer claimed this morning that it was fixing the "immediate and burning issues" at the group as it reported another fall in half-year profits.

"Clothing has been a huge problem for them for a lot of years and they have got to serve up better products to their customers".

United Kingdom sales and food sales went up by 2.7 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively. In shops open more than a year, sales of clothes slipped 0.7pc and food fell 0.1pc.

Second-quarter clothing and homeware like-for-like sales fell 0.1 percent, having fallen 1.2 percent in the first quarter.

M&S's said that its long-struggling clothing and home division, which for many years addicted to heavy discounting, had recorded a 5.3 per cent increase in full...

However, the underlying profits of M&S have declined 5.3 per cent to £231.3m.

The chain's shares leap as it announces plans to "reshape" its store operations further to cut costs and drive digital sales.

A year ago M&S had said it would roll-out 200 new food stores by the end of 2019 but it will now only open stores that deliver the highest returns.

In addition, the retailer said it would commence a "significant" review of costs and further invest in its online sales offering as part of the next phase of its turnaround plan.

Despite the results, M&S maintained that it was beginning to see first steps of its recovery plan working, with a better-than-expected shift of sales from closed stores to nearby outlets.

"The business still has many structural issues to tackle as we embark on the next five years of our transformation, in the context of a very challenging retail and consumer environment", he added.

M&S said that while it would slow openings of new food-only stores, it still planned to launch another 80 Simply Food shops over the current financial year. "In clothing and home, early results are encouraging, and in worldwide we now have a profitable and robust business".

It has so far completed six of the 30 announced United Kingdom closures.

The group has also revealed that its chief financial officer Helen Weir, who left John Lewis to take up the role in 2015, would depart as she wants to pursue "a plural career".

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