Marks & Spencer has posted a 10 per cent drop in annual profits due to falling sales across its clothing arm and food halls as a sweeping overhaul takes its toll.

The high street bellwether posted underlying pre-tax profits of £523.2 million for the year to March 30, down from £580.9m the previous year.

Chief Steve Rowe said there were "green shoots" of a turnaround, but added that performance was not consistent and had been hit by its store closure programme and wide-ranging revamp plan.

The group warned that it remained in the "difficult early stages" of its turnaround and progress will largely not come until the second half of 2019-20.

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Comparable sales in its troubled womenswear arm dropped 1.6 per cent after a 1.3% fall in the final three months, after it was hit by the timing of Easter and poor stock availability.

Like-for-like sales in its food halls fell 2.3% following a 1.5% decline in the fourth quarter, although this was also affected by the timing of Easter.

Mr Rowe said the firm remains "on track with our transformation and are now well on the road to making M&S special again".

Royal Mail has reported a drop in adjusted pre-tax profits to £398 million for the year to March 31, compared to £565m in the comparable period last year.

On a reported basis, pre-tax profits increased to £241m.
Revenue was higher at £10.58 billion.

Chief executive Rico Back said: "At the heart of our refreshed strategy is a UK 'turnaround and grow' programme.

"In 2018-19, after a challenging year, we delivered productivity improvements and cost avoidance in line with our revised expectations.

"Over the next five years, through a focus on new ways of working and extending our network, we will ensure a contemporary UK universal service."

More than 150,000 UK steel jobs have been lost since the 1980s, according to a new study.

In 1981 the industry employed 186,000 workers but the total has now slumped to around 32,000, said the GMB union.

The report was published ahead of more talks aimed at securing the future of British Steel amid continued speculation that the company could go into administration.