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Britain's M&S to speed up change as profits fall again

  • M&S said it would accelerate its space rationalization plan for clothing and homeware and reposition its food business, including slowing its opening plan for Simply Food stores
  • The group made a pretax profit before one-off items of 219.1 million pounds ($288.18 million) in the 26 weeks to Sept. 30
  • "I think the biggest challenge is how do they react to the digital and online world… and most of the U.K. retailers have been quite slow to adapt," Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General, told CNBC Wednesday
Thomas Samson | AFP | Getty Images

Britain's Marks & Spencer on Wednesday reported a 5.3 percent fall in first-half profit, a second straight decline, hurt by sales falls, and said it would speed up the pace of its turnaround plan.

M&S, one of the best known names in British retail, said it would accelerate its space rationalisation plan for clothing and homeware and reposition its food business, including slowing its opening plan for Simply Food stores.

The group made a pretax profit before one-off items of 219.1 million pounds ($288.18 million) in the 26 weeks to Sept. 30.

That was ahead of analysts' average forecast of 201 million pounds but below 231.3 million pounds made in the same period last year.

Second-quarter clothing and homeware like-for-like sales fell 0.1 percent, having fallen 1.2 percent in the first quarter. Same store food sales fell 0.1 percent, the same as the previous quarter.

"I think the biggest challenge is how do they react to the digital and online world … And most of the U.K. retailers have been quite slow to adapt," Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General, told CNBC Wednesday.

"Clothing has been a huge problem for them for a lot of years and they have got to serve up better products to their customers. We see lots of competitors in the U.K. doing a better job of that right now," he added.