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Marks and Spencer: profit down slightly but above estimates.

(CercleFinance.com) - British retailer Marks and Spencer posted mixed H1 performance on Wednesday, reflecting the difficult path to put its business back on firm footing.

The retailer, which mainly sells clothes and food, this morning said that it made profit before tax and extraordinary items of 219 million pounds in the six months to 30 September, down from 231 million pounds a year ago.

This compares with the consensus of 201 million pounds.

Sales from M&S' British stores open were down slightly over a year (-0.3%) in the first half, with a 0.7% fall in general merchandise sales adding to a 0.1% drop in food.

"Gross margin is better in non-food but worse in food as the market has become more competitive," UBS analysts pointed out.

Marks and Spencer also announced that CFO Helen Weir has decided to leave the company, but will continue until a suitable successor has been found.

The shares were broadly unchanged after all these news, down just 0.3% at 326.7 pence.

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