Profits jump to £965m
High street giant Marks & Spencer unveiled impressive sales in its final results and revealed 10,000 new jobs will be created within the next three years.

Pre-tax profit rocketed 28.5 per cent to£965.2 million in the 52 weeks to March 31, just shy of the£1 billion level reached by the group nine years ago. Sales surged 10.1 per cent to£8.6 billion, with UK sales up 9.7 per cent.

UK like-for-likes jumped 6.1 per cent, general merchandise rose 7.8 per cent and food was up 4.2 per cent. International sales also soared 16.8 per cent, across 240 stores.

Market share has also increased in both clothing and food and M&S remains the UK's largest clothing retailer in both value and volume. The retailer also announced that it is to pay out a record bonus of£91 million, compared with£73 million last year.

According to the group, its modernised stores continue to outperform and it aims to have 70 per cent revamped by Christmas. The retailer's 15 per cent to 20 per cent growth target remains on track - 63 Simply Food stores were opened during the year. The group has 100 store openings planned for the next financial year.

M&S chief executive Stuart Rose said: 'We have had a good year. Capital spend has been about£800 million in the year, supporting our future growth. We used valuable property assets to substantially reduce our pension deficit to£283 million.

'Our plan remains the same - to drive further growth from our core business through the delivery of better product, service and environment. We are also starting to broaden the business by stretching the brand into new product areas, expanding space, driving our Direct business and building our brand internationally.'

The company also revealed that co-founder Martha Lane Fox has been appointed non-executive director with effect from June 1, emphasising the retailer's determination to expand its online operations.

In the fourth quarter, UK sales rose 7.8 per cent, with like-for-likes also up 3.8 per cent.

However, the retailer remains cautious about current trading. Rose said: 'We have had a satisfactory start to the financial year, despite tough comparatives. We expect the retail environment to become more challenging: competition remains intense and pressure on consumer spending as a result of interest rate rises will also increase.'