Marks & Spencer, Trading Conditions Challenging

Retailer Marks & Spencer Group Plc (MAKSY.PK, MAKSF.PK, MKS.L) reported Wednesday that its first-half profit before tax increased 7.1 percent to 126.7 million pounds from 118.3 million pounds last year.

Profit after tax was 89.8 million pounds, up 6.1 percent from 84.6 million pounds a year ago. Basic earnings per share were 5.4 pence, up 3.8 percent from 5.2 pence last year.

Adjusted profit before tax was 223.5 million pounds, compared to 219.1 million pounds a year earlier. Basic adjusted earnings per share were 10.6 pence, compared to 10.7 pence last year.

Group revenue dropped 3.1 percent to 4.97 billion pounds from 5.13 billion euros a year ago.

Clothing & Home revenue was down 2.7% impacted by store closures, with like-for-like sales down 1.1%. Online Clothing sales growth was ahead of market.

Food revenue was down 0.2% with like-for-like revenue down 2.9% reflecting tough trading.

Looking ahead, for fiscal 2019, the company said trading conditions remain challenging and the headwinds from the growth of online competition and the march of the discounters remain strong in all markets.

In Clothing & Home, the company now expects a space reduction of c.4% as at year end, compared to previously expected 5%.