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M&S H1 profit rises, thanks to women's clothing

London

A GLIMMER of improvement in women's clothing helped British retailer Marks & Spencer post its first rise in first-half profit in four years, though analysts said that it was too soon to declare a turnaround after years of false dawns. Shares in the high street stalwart, down 17 per cent over the past year, jumped by nearly 10 per cent after results showed profit margin gains, with cost cuts and rising sales of upmarket food offsetting a deepening decline in sales of general merchandise, spanning clothing, footwear and homeware.

The key womenswear category, however, achieved a 1.3 per cent sales uplift in the first five months of the half-year ended Sept 27. At stores open more than a year,...

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