Britain's M&S sees profit fall for second straight year

Britain's M&S sees profit fall for second straight year

Britain's M&S sees profit fall for second straight year

M&S, one of the best known names in British retail, made a pretax profit before one off items of £580.9m in the year to March 31.

Britain's Marks & Spencer MKS.L said on Wednesday it urgently had to modernise or risk fading away as it reported a second straight decline in annual profit and booked a 321 million pounds charge for a store closure programme.

Last year the incoming chairman of the retailer accused the struggling store chain of "drifting" for more than 15 years and pledged to turn the business around.

The company further updated investors on its transformation programme today, with chief executive Steve Rowe saying that the first phase of the plan, dubbed "restoring the basics, ' was 'well underway". They show that the company continues to focus on rapid change, with significant short-term costs being recorded.

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Group revenue, however, rose 0.7 per cent rise year-on-year from £10.62 billion to £10.69 billion and total sales in its food division were up 3.9 per cent.

The retailer's troubled clothing arm saw like-for-like sales fall by 1.9% in the year.

"These, together with a challenging United Kingdom consumer market, mean that we have to modernise our business to ensure we are competitive and reignite our culture", it said.

"Developments in the retail industry since then have reinforced our conviction about the need for the transformation of M&S", said the group in a statement.

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"In Food, we expect year end space to be broadly level, as we open new Simply Food stores, but close less productive Full Line space".

The company is seeking to reduce costs by at least £350 million, although its dividend will be maintained at its current level.

"There are a number of structural issues to address and we are taking steps towards fixing these", Mr Rowe added.

"And we're concentrating on tackling the culture of the business, making M&S a faster, lower cost and more commercial digital business". In both businesses we need to revitalise our ranges and reassert our reputation for value for money.

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