Marks and Spencer posts annual profit of one billion pounds

LONDON, May 20, 2008 (AFP) – British clothes to food retailer Marks and Spencer posted annual profits of more than one billion pounds (1.2 billion euros, 1.9 billion dollars) Tuesday, the company said. Pre-tax profits of 1.1 billion pounds for the financial year to March 29 were 4.3 percent ahead of the previous 12-month period and exceeded market expectations.

It is the first time it had breached the one-billion-pound mark since 1997-98.

But the results coincided with a 1.7 percent fall in like-for-like sales during the final three months of the year — the second successive quarter of sales declines after a disappointing period over Christmas last December.

“We expect market conditions to remain difficult for the foreseeable future and are managing our business accordingly,” said M and S chief executive Stuart Rose in a statement.

“Tight stock control and management of costs are a priority.”

The high street retailer disclosed that it paid out a record 91 million pounds in bonuses to its 75,000 staff in last year but cut the payout this time around after failing to hit internal targets.

Some 62,000 of its customer assistants will though receive 12.8 million pounds.