Marks & Spencer's profits fall
Pre-tax profits at Marks and Spencer fell to £320.5 million in the six months to end September, down from £348.6 million in the previous year.
Non-food sales were down 0.8% in the period with like-for-like sales down 1.3%. Food sales grew by 3.9% with like-for-like sales up 2.1%.
International sales were up 9% in the six months. Sales at UK stores open more than a year fell 0.7% in the last three months as tough economic conditions reined in consumer spending.
M&S Direct sales were up 11.7% as website traffic grew by 13% to over three million visits per week.
Commenting on the results, Marc Bolland, chief executive, said: "In an increasingly promotional environment, we managed costs tightly and took a decision to invest in giving our customers better value, choosing not to pass on the full extent of the increases in commodity prices.
"Against a challenging consumer backdrop, we took decisive action to manage the business through the short term while continuing our focus on investing in creating a stronger platform."
Going forward, M&S said the second half had started in line with expectations but warned that operating costs were likely to increase by around 3%. This was a result of increased depreciation, space growth and inflation, as well as investment in growth initiatives, offset by underlying savings.
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