Still in the red but a sign that Rose has managed to stop the rot
Marks & Spencer has something to smile about today as it delivered interim results for the 26 weeks ended October 2.The clothing to food retailer reported UK sales were down 0.4 per cent to£3.3 billion. On a like-for-like basis, UK sales were down 4 per cent.

Group Profit before tax and exceptional items was£292.7 million, down from£325.1 million in the period of 26 weeks ended September 27. 2003.

During the period, the retailer returned£2.3 billion to shareholders, closed its flagship Lifestore homewares store and stopped 21 of 31 strategic initiatives put in place by former chief executive Roger Holmes.

Chief executive Stuart Rose said: 'The solutions lie in strong retailing disciplines and a complete focus on delivering to the customer style, quality, value and innovation. We can buy better, market better, present our stores better and improve speed and efficiency of our supply chain.'

The figures, although still worse than the equivalent period are in line with analysts expectations and show that the retailer has, for the moment at least managed to slow its downward slide.