Wednesday 4 November 2009 7:00 pm

M&S beats forecasts as it says no to discounting

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MARKS & SPENCER (M&S) yesterday said that there would be no blanket promotions that dominated the high street last year in the run up to the Christmas period, after its half year  sales beat City forecasts.

Executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose yesterday said that this year included very different circumstances. He said:  “Last year people thought the world was ending… They needed a kickstart. But now people are fed up with being fed up and starting to treat themselves again.”

M&S posted pre-tax profits of £306.7m for the six months to 26 September. Total sales grew by 2.8 per cent during the period, but UK like-for-like sales during the six months floundered at minus 0.9 per cent.

M&S also announced it will be introducing 400 lines of branded products including Kit-Kat and Marmite, into stores for the first time,  in a bid to allow customers to do all their shopping under one roof.

The retailer has also launched an aggressive marketing campaign against Waitrose’s recent launch of its cheaper “essentials” range – claiming that M&S is cheaper than Waitrose despite consumers’ “wrong perceptions”.