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Marks & Spencer reports higher revenues and profits in 2009, says worst of recession over

Retailer Marks & Spencer (LSE: MKS) declared an end to the worst part of the recession and called 2009 a good year, saying that performance improved in all areas, driving adjusted pre-tax profits up 4.6% from a yera earlier to £632.5 million as group revenues climbed 3.2% to £9.5 billion.

UK like-for-like sales were up 0.9%, general merchandise rose 1.6% and food sales improved +0.3%. Net debt was reduced by £422.4 million to £2.1 billion and earnings per share were up from 32.3 pence to 33.5 pence, leading the company to dish out £81 million in bonuses and declare a final dividend of 9.5 pence to bring the total dividend up to 15 pence.

Other highlights included an increase in clothing market share to 11% and online market share from 5.3% to 5.6%, a 27% jump in direct sales to £413 million, cost savings of £145 million and cash generation of £411.7 million.

Marks and Spencer has also said that its Project 2020 to make its warehousing and distribution network more cost efficient was on plan and it was targeting to become the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015.

“Marks & Spencer has had a good year. We have improved performance in all core areas, demonstrating the resilience of the M&S brand. ...with the worst effects of the recession behind us, strong foundations in place, and our core values intact, I am confident that M&S is well set for growth,” said outgoing chairman Stuart Rose.

The company has appointed former Morrison’s (LSE: MRW) chief executive Marc Bolland as CEO and will identify a new chairman to replace Rose.

Marks and Spencer said that it had a “satisfactory start” to the first quarter, planning to release an update on Q1 sales on 7 July 2010.

Last year, through Project 2020, it set out the key elements of its plan to restructure its supply chain, implement new information systems and improve operational execution.