British retailer Marks & Spencer posted its lowest annual profit since 2009 today as a struggling clothing and homewares division dragged on growth in food sales.
The 129-year-old firm said it made a profit before tax and one-off items of £665.2m in the year to March 30 - the second fall in a row.
The outcome compares with analyst forecasts of £640-670m and is a decline on the £687.2m made the previous year.
Group sales rose 1.3% to £10 billion. M&S, whose shares have risen 30% over the past year after periodic bouts of bid speculation, kept its annual dividend at 17 pence a share.
M&S said that its European business was impacted by the ongoing weakness of the Irish and Greek economies.
However, it said that despite ''continuing tough trading conditions'' impacting the full year performance in the Czech Republic and Ireland, there was an improvement in trend in the second half of the year.
The group forecast "underlying profit improvement" in the 2013-14 year but cautioned it expected to incur about £30m of non-recurring dual-running costs, as a result of the transition to a new web platform and the opening of a new distribution centre in central England.
Many retailers in the UK are finding the going tough as consumers fret over job security and a squeeze on incomes.
M&S's profit fall, which reflected seven consecutive quarters of underlying sales declines in general merchandise, will likely impact the performance-related annual bonus of chief executive Marc Bolland.
Shares in M&S hit a five-year high last week after its clothing strategy update and eagerly awaited autumn/winter ranges were well received by analysts and the fashion press.
Bolland, boss since May 2010, is under pressure from investors to revive M&S's clothing, which has been losing market share to firms like Primark and Debenhams.
The autumn/winter ranges are widely seen as make-or-break for a new general merchandise team, assembled by Bolland and led by John Dixon, the former boss of M&S's food business, and Belinda Earl, the former CEO of Debenhams and Jaeger.
Bolland has repeatedly said the new team will not make a major impact on sales until the ranges start hitting the shops in late July. M&S said trading over the first seven weeks of the new financial year had been in line with its expectations. For 2013-14, it forecast gross margin growth of 30-50 basis points and a 3.5% rise in operating costs.