London — Sales at Marks & Spencer (M&S) fell in the first half, with both clothing and food hit by disruption from the British retailer’s latest attempt at a turnaround. After more than a decade of failed re-inventions, M&S is now targeting sustainable, profitable growth in three to five years and warned on Tuesday that sales are unlikely to improve soon. “Trading conditions remain challenging and the headwinds from the growth of online competition and the march of the discounters remain strong in all our markets,” it said. Shares in M&S, which have fallen 4% so far this year, were down 1.1% at 8.06am GMT. M&S said that its full-year outlook is broadly unchanged as underlying profit rose 2%. It also maintained its interim dividend after reporting pre-tax profit before once-off items of £223.5m in the six months to September 29, ahead of analysts’ average forecast of £203m. But M&S sales slipped again, with clothing and home down 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and its gross margin dow...

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