British retailer Marks and Spencer (LON:MKS) have reported another fall in sales, despite extensive spending to modernise the brand, but have upped their annual profit margin forecast.

Sales of general merchandise, which includes clothing, were down by 1.2 percent for the six months to 26 September. Clothing accounts for around 40 percent of the store’s total sales.

However, food sales increased by 0.2 percent as Marks and Spencer establishes themselves as an upmarket, ‘occasion’ supermarket. The company have raised their full-year guidance up to between 2 and 2.5 percent.

The retailer has also beat beat forecasts for first-half profit and increased its dividend. This will come as good news to chief executive Marc Bolland, who has chosen to focus on gross margins and investment in stores, products, logistics and the company’s website.

“We delivered good underlying profit growth in the first half and made strong progress against our key priorities,” Bolland said

The 131-year-old retailer is currently trading up 2.69 percent at 534.50 pence per share. (1225GMT)

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