M&S profits dip

MARKS & Spencer reported falling half-year profits today as it counted the cost of its worst non-food sales performance for three years.

MARKS & Spencer reported falling half-year profits today as it counted the cost of its worst non-food sales performance for three years.

The retail giant posted a fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £297m from £307m a year earlier after admitting to mistakes in its core womenswear range.

Under-pressure chief executive Marc Bolland offered signs of a turnaround since then, reporting a better-than-feared 1.8% fall in like-for-like non-food sales in the second quarter - a marked improvement on the 6.8% slide seen in the first three months, which marked its worst performance since December 2008.

Marks said it had taken "decisive action" by improving buying and merchandising, while also overhauling its general merchandise team and hiring new managers - including tasking former Debenhams and Jaeger boss Belinda Earl with revitalising womenswear in the newly-created role of style director.

But the group admitted customers would start to see the benefits of its management reshuffle only from next summer.

Marks added that recent trading had been volatile and the second half of the year will be tough as retailers up the ante with promotions.

 
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