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Marks & Spencer sees half year lift

Published: 4 November 2009
This morning's half-year figures from M&S show a somewhat healthier picture than city analysts had predicted.
Marks & Spencer sees half year lift
Results for the period to September 26 2009 showed sales rose 2.8% to £4.3bn, although the like-for-like figure actually saw a small decline of 0.9%. Pre-tax profit, before property disposals, increased slightly from £297.8m last year to £298.3m. City predictions had placed them some £10m lower than this.

Tight cost control has been cited as one of the main reasons for the 'above expectation' performance. For example, despite growing sales space by 3.9% in the period, retail staffing costs only rose 1.7%. Similarly, savings have been made through "contract renegotiation, supply chain consolidation and continued efficiency drive". Gross margin, however, is also expected to decline by 50-100bps for the full-year period.

Speaking of the results, chairman Sir Stuart Rose said: "We are pleased with our first-half performance. Our strong customer offer, together with tight management of costs and margin, has allowed us to report a profit slightly ahead of last year, despite a challenging economic environment.

"In the longer term we have plans to deliver sustainable growth by driving international and multi-channel." H1 saw traffic to the M&S website grow 30% and sales increase by 29%.

However, he added a note of caution saying: "The market remains competitive and, as we come up against volatile trading conditions, we remain cautious about the outlook for Christmas and the year ahead."

Marks & Spencer will updater on their third quarter on January 6 2010.

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