Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland has his eye on a return...

    Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland has his eye on a return to the US market

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    Marks & boss used his first set of annual results to signal that a return to the American market is on the cards for Britain’s biggest clothing retailer.

    In an unguarded moment, the Dutchman explained cracking the States was back on the chain’s long-term radar saying: ‘Yes we will have a look at it, as it is a very important market. But not tomorrow, later.’

    It is the first time M&S has shown any sign of joining the likes of grocer and online fashion retailer ASOS in crossing the pond.

    It left, tail between its legs, in 2006, having failed to make a success of clothing chain and food group Kings Super Markets.

    The High Street bellwether, which serves 21m shoppers-a-week from a network of 700 stores, stressed its short- term international growth plan is focused on India and .
    However it does have 320 mostly franchise shops in 41 territories and is to return to France in the autumn with the launch of a flagship store on the Champs Élysées.
    At home investors took profits, sending the shares down 11.4p to 387.11p after the firm delivered better than expected pre-tax profits of £781m up from £703m for the year to April 2.

    Sales rose 4.2pc to £9.7bn and the total dividend was increased by 13.3pc to 17p per share.

    Bolland attributed the strong performance to innovations in both food and clothing and the introduction of a raft of exclusive items to its ranges.

    Promotions such as its ‘Dine In’ meals fed growth with 15m dishes shifted over the year.

    But Bolland was cautious on future trading, saying: ‘We expect trading conditions in the year ahead to be challenging due to rising pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes and high commodity prices.’

    In an update on , Bolland admitted ‘our customers have told us they find our stores difficult to shop’.
    He is to invest an extra £300m a year on top of the £600m already earmarked for capital expenditure including revamping UK stores. This will involve introducing better signage and  ‘segmenting’ stores for local markets.
    This means in more affluent areas the stock will be tailored for posh customers with an increase in value ranges for poor areas.

    Freddie George, an analyst at Seymour Pierce said: ‘We suspect the stock will now see a period of consolidation after an almost 15pc rise in the share price over the last quarter.’

    Source : Daily Mail