M&S stocks down on profits news

<p>A fall in profits has been announced by Marks and Spencer.</p>

The share price of Marks and Spencer (M&S) is down this morning (May 20th) following the release of the company's latest financial results.

M&S announced that its underlying profits fell by almost four per cent to £623 million, which is the third year in a low the retailer's profits have been down.

Chief executive Marc Bolland told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that progress has been made at the firm in the last few months, despite the results showing another fall in profits.

"General merchandise is not yet satisfactory. But a lot of the heavy lifting has been done. It [rising profit] takes a while to follow. We are improving step by step," he said.

Figures for general merchandise – which includes clothing – were 1.4 per cent lower, while there was a 1.7 per cent dip in like-for-like sales, which strips out the impact of new stores.

Challenging market

M&S said in its trading update that the clothing market was "challenging" and blamed "unseasonal conditions" for the fall in its profits, as well as "high levels of promotional activity" for the lower full year general merchandise sales.

Mr Bollard has now been at the helm of the firm for the last three years but defended his record at the company, insisting heavy investment has been made to ensure the retailer is "fit for purpose". However, the chief executive is likely to come under increased pressure as a result of the latest financial results.

Investors did not appear to be convinced by Mr Bollard's comments either, as the share price of M&S is down this morning. By 08:15 BST, stocks in the British high street stalwart were around 1.5 per cent down compared to the opening of the session on the London Stock Exchange.

M&S remains one of the UK's most famous high street brands, but the company has found it increasingly hard to stay relevant in the last few years, competing with other retailers and online-only businesses for customers.

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