British retailer M&S says profits dip in first half

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British clothing-to-food retailer Marks & Spencer said on Tuesday that net profits dipped in the group's first half as it held back from passing on rising costs to consumers.

Profit after tax fell 3.0 percent to £252.4 million (294 million euros, $406 million) in the six months to October 1 compared with the same part of 2010, M&S said in an earnings statement.

Sales rose 2.4 percent to £4.7 billion "despite tough comparatives and a challenging economic environment," said M&S chief executive Marc Bolland.

"Our food business in particular performed strongly. We maintained our share of the clothing and food markets," he said in the statement.

Bolland added: "In an increasingly promotional environment, we managed costs tightly and took a decision to invest in giving our customers better value, choosing not to pass on the full extent of the increases in commodity prices."

© 2011 AFP

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