As it enters the second year of its three-year recovery plan, UK retailer Marks & Spencer has posted annual pre-tax profits excluding exceptional items of GBP751.4m for 52-weeks ending 1 April. This is an increase of 35.1% on profits reported for 2004/5 fiscal year.

Adjusted earnings per share of 31.4 pence are at an all time high, the company said. “The Board is proposing a final dividend of 9.2p per share, an increase of 22.7%, giving a full year dividend of 14.0p, an increase of 15.7%,” chairman Paul Myners commented, “The full year dividend is covered 2.2 times by earnings. Having re-established cover at over two times, the Board’s policy is to grow dividends broadly in line with adjusted earnings per share growth for each half of the Group’s financial year.”

Group sales increased by 4.1% to GBP70.8bn, with overall like-for-like sales up 1.3%. Second-half sales were strongest, with like-for-like sales up 5.4% in food and 3,5% in general merchandise.

Revealing the results, Stuart Rose, M&S chief executive, said: “The Group has had a good year. M&S is beginning to regain its confidence but we still have much to do to ensure that we sustain growth in the long term. Our key priority remains the revitalisation of our core business, building on the work already in hand based on our principles of Quality, Value, Service, Innovation and Trust and driving further progress in product, environment and service.”

The company said that customer visits has increased by 350,000 to 15m a week, attributing the increase to its advertising campaign featuring 1960s model Twiggy.