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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 07:36 GMT
M&S sees profits rise
M&S store front
High Street stalwart Marks & Spencer (M&S) has seen profits rise more than 7% to 311.5m for the six months to September.

The results come as sales rose 4.3% over the same period last year.

The profits were in line with expectations following disappointing sales in both its key areas of clothing and food during the hot summer.

Overall, though, the firm said its share of the food market was growing.

Including one-off charges - which badly impacted the firm's performance last year - profits were up 14.3% to 326m.


M&S has spent the past couple of years rebuilding its image and sales, after it lost popularity amid accusations that it was stuffy and out of touch with its customers.

But M&S said current conditions on the High Street remained "challenging".

Chief executive Roger Holmes admitted that there was "work to do" on the clothing side of the business, particularly in women's tailoring, a traditional strength of the group - although its casualwear business was performing well.

But he said the company's push into the credit card market - and its plans for new specialist stores focusing on the food and interiors markets, were proceeding according to plan.

And he said M&S was "well set up" for the all-important Christmas season, with a gift catalogue 50% bigger than 2002's the firm's largest range to date of party clothing.


Cost savings would begin to feed through in the next six months, Mr Holmes promised.

The company is also planning to trial radio tags on its clothing, which it believes could help cut stock-taking costs and prevent shoplifting.

Privacy campaigners have criticised the use of so-called Radio Frequency Identifier Devices (RFIDs), saying they could be used to track shoppers' behaviour even after purchase.

But M&S has said it will look for ways to minimise privacy concerns by making sure they are removed or deactivated at the checkout.

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