Video comment: Marks & Spencer results ease some of the pressure on Marc Bolland

Video: Toby Green provides a run-down of today's news on Marks & Spencer

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The Independent Online

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It’s all about one company today - Marks & Spencer, the 130-year-old High Street institution that has been struggling to keep up with modern world of retailing.

It was four and a half years ago that Marc Bolland took charge of M&S, and it’s fair to say the Dutchman hasn’t had a lot to celebrate.

Tonight, however, Bolland will be going to bed with a smile for once after M&S released its latest results.

On first glance, they don’t look all that - its general merchandise division, which includes clothing, saw sales down 4% in the three months to the end of September which is the 13th consecutive quarter of falls.  But look a bit deeper and, for once, there are some reasons to be optimistic.

For one, M&S has said that its key womenswear division actually saw sales rise, by 1.3%, during the five months to the end of August.

Then there is the gross margin, which is the difference between the wholesale price M&S pay for its goods and how much it sells them for. That saw a decent jump, and will continue to increase by more than City experts were expecting.

Finally, investors were even given a pre-Christmas present, with the interim dividend rising by 0.2p to 6.4p.

All of that means M&S shares are today trading around 9% higher.