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Marks & Spencer cautious on year ahead

Despite announcing a 4.6% rise in pre-tax profits to £632.5 million, UK retail giant Marks & Spencer is still concerned about the short to medium-term outlook for the UK economy. Like for like sales increased by 0.9% over the 52-week period in what is the last set of figures reported by Sir Stuart Rose, the outgoing chairman.

The company is now in the hands of Marc Bolland although he has taken a step back from the results issued today to concentrate on his induction period which began a couple of weeks ago. There are very high hopes for the incoming former Morrison's chief executive who comes with a very good track record and an incentive package which few other companies in the UK could match.

Insiders at Marks & Spencer believe that the new chief executive has plans to increase the company's overseas exposure, something which has always proved difficult in the past, and increase the breadth and the depth of products and services available in-store. There's also likely to be further impetus added to the company's online presence with the company finally being dragged into the new online arena. Whatever happens over the next few years we are likely to see a very different Marks & Spencer to the one we see today.

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