Chain holds on to its share of UK food; no plans to abandon US operations In store revamp set for autumn Marks and Spencer this week confirmed expectations with the announcement of a slump in annual pretax profit of nearly 50% to £634.6m before exceptionals of £88.5m. The City had been warned of a problem in January, and the results came in at the middle of the range expected. The group had negative like for like food sales growth of 1.4% and including new floorspace grew by only £10m. With increasing amounts of floorspace, including the former Littlewoods stores, the group is looking increasingly over-extended. Surprisingly, M&S managed to retain its share of the food market ­ static at 4.3%. Chief executive Peter Salsbury indicated its food customers were "experts, loyal and visit often. We know their tastes well." But Salsbury admitted the group had made mistakes which "pushed customers into the arms of the competition". He said the priority was to speed up decision making, restructure the buying operation, place more of an emphasis on sales and marketing, and restore the profitability of the overseas operation which lost £14.1m. Despite a disappointing year for Brooks and Kings in the US, Salsbury said he had no plans to dispose of them. As well as numerous management structure changes, plans were afoot to improve the merchandising environment in store, said md of UK retail Andrew Stone. Changes should begin from the autumn, starting with new signage and displays. There will be an additional 2,000 assistants on the shop floor. l Back from the Brink? ­ p42. {{NEWS }}