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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

British retailer Marks & Spencer reported a rise in half-year net profit on Tuesday as solid food sales helped to offset further weakness for its clothing division.

Britain's largest clothing retailer said profit after tax grew 13.5 percent to £249.6 million ($398 million, 295 million euros) in the six months to the end of September compared with the equivalent period in 2012.

Overall revenue rose 3.9 percent to £4.88 billion in the first half, M&S said in an earnings statement.

Food sales grew 2.5 percent but general merchandise, including clothing, dropped 1.5 percent. Sales at its stores outside Britain jumped 8.0 percent.

"Marks & Spencer made progress with a strong performance in Food, International and M&S.com," chief executive Marc Bolland said in a statement.

"Our key priority was the re-launch of Womenswear. In September we launched our first new collection with new advertising and improved store formats. Although only in store for three weeks of the half year, our Autumn/Winter collection has been well received by customers, and we have seen some early signs of improvement," he added.

M&S said sales abroad were driven by strong growth in China and India.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131105/marks