Dow Jones Newswires: Marks & Spencer profit rises 52%, but retailer warns of challenging market conditions

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Marks & Spencer Group PLC said Wednesday that pretax profit rose 52% in the first six months of fiscal 2020, despite a drop in revenue.

For the period ended Sept. 28, the U.K. retailer MKS, -1.11%   said that pretax profit was 153.5 million pounds ($197.8 million), compared with GBP101.3 million in fiscal 2019. On an adjusted basis–the company’s preferred metric which excludes exceptional costs–pretax profit was GBP176.5 million, compared with GBP213.0 million.

The company–which lost its long-standing spot on the FTSE 100 index in September–reported a 2.1% fall in group revenue to GBP4.86 billion.

The company’s food segment had a sales growth of 0.9% on a like-for-like basis. However, the clothing and home segment declined by 5.5% on a like-for-like basis.

Moreover, the company said that its plans to transition to the M&S range is on track following the creation of a joint venture with Ocado Group PLC OCDO, +0.74%  .

The board has declared an interim dividend of 3.9 pence, down from last year’s 6.5 pence.

The company said that while some improvement in trading is planned in the second half of the year, market conditions remain challenging.

It expects its clothing and home segment sales to fall by 2% in the second half, due to timing of store closures, while its food segment sales are expected to be broadly level.

“Our transformation plan is now running at a pace and scale not seen before at Marks & Spencer. For the first time we are beginning to see the potential from the far reaching changes we are making,” Chief Executive Steve Rowe said.