M&S set to report drop in sales, cranking up the pressure on big-spending Bolland

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MARKS & SPENCER is expected to report a 7.5 per cent drop in annual profit on Tuesday, a third consecutive fall after a three-year investment plan failed to revive its underperforming non-food business.

Over the last three years chief executive Marc Bolland has spent £2.3bn addressing decades of under-investment to transform M&S into an international retailer reaching customers through stores, the web and mobile devices.

Though he has spent heavily on redesigning products and stores and on overhauling logistics to complement a new internet platform that went live in February, a new clothing team he set up in 2012 has so far failed to deliver a significant pick-up in sales.

The 130-year-old firm, whose general merchandise division, made up of clothing, footwear and homewares has posted eleven consecutive quarters of underlying sales decline, is forecast by analysts to report a year to March 29 profit before tax and one-off items of £600-£630m, with a consensus of £615m, according to a company poll.

That compares with the £665m profit M&S made in 2012-13 and would fall below the annual profit made by faster-growing rival Next for the first time.

Mr Bolland, CEO since 2010, is expected to repeat his mantra of “step by step” improvement at Britain’s biggest clothing retailer.

M&S was founded in Leeds.

Graham Pearce of KPMG

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