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Marks & Spencer says interim profits slide by almost 10%

M&S, which trades from 730 UK stores to 21 million Britons a week, and has 390 stores in 44 countries overseas/AFP

LONDON, Nov 6 – British retailer Marks & Spencer said Tuesday that net profits sank in the first half of its financial year, as the company failed to win a boost from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.

Earnings after taxation dived 9.9 percent to £227.2 million ($363 million, 284 million euros) in the 26 weeks to September 29, compared with the same period of 2011, the clothing-to-food group said in a results statement.

Revenue meanwhile climbed 0.4 percent to £4.7 billion for the company that runs hundreds of stores in Britain and worldwide.

However, M&S added that like-for-like British sales — stripping out the impact of new floor space — fell by 1.4 percent in the first half.

“The market continued to be challenging through the first half of the financial year, with consumer confidence impacted by a weak macro-economic situation and continued pressure on disposable incomes,” M&S said.

“Trading was volatile, affected by unseasonable weather conditions over the summer months, including three of the wettest months on record in April, June and July.

“While the Jubilee and the Olympics improved the nation’s mood, they did not translate into higher sales.

“Against this backdrop we focused on tight management of margin and costs. We took action to address the short term issues in general merchandise and are pleased that we have seen an improvement in the second quarter.”

International sales meanwhile increased by 3.6 percent in the first half, but pre-tax profits slid 9.7 percent to £289.5 million

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