Marks & Spencer (M&S), the U.K. high street stalwart, reported a 1 percent rise in group sales to £4.9 billion ($7.8 billion) Wednesday, in a set of half-year results which were better than expected.
The retailer was one of the biggest gainers in European trading Wednesday morning, as its share price went 7 percent higher. It raised its interim dividend by by 0.2p to 6.4p per share, which was seen as a sign of management confidence.
This is the fourth first-half decline in profit before tax in a row for Marks & Spencer, with profit before tax down 0.4 percent to £279 million, as the biggest clothing retailer in the U.K. (by value) loses market share in clothing sales to high street rival Next. Sales of general merchandise (primarily clothes) were down 4 percent in the second quarter, the 13th quarterly sales declines in a row.