M&S profit tops £1 billion

Annual results represent retailer's best performance since 1997/98, exceeding market forecasts.
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Marks & Spencers annual profits have topped £1 billion for the first time in a decade.

The profit of just over £1 billion for the year ending March 29th were 4.3 per cent ahead of last year, although the chain did experience a 1.7 per cent fall in like for like sales during the last three months of the year. This is the second successive quarter of sales declines after a disappointing Christmas.

Chief executive Sir Stuart Rose - who, since his arrival at the retailer in 2004, has seen the business turn round - said that he expects market conditions to remain difficult for the foreseeable future.

Trading since the end of March has been mixed, he said.

Like for like sales among general merchandise - including clothing - fell 3.1 per cent in the first three months of the year, which was slightly better than most forecasts.

M&S is also forging ahead with plans to increase its share of the food market to five per cent, starting a trial of around 350 branded products at 19 stores in Tyneside and Teesside from June.

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