Marks & Spencer (M&S) has reported a 2.9% decline in like-for-like food sales in its latest half year results.

For the six months to 29 September, M&S total food revenues dropped 0.2%, despite a 7.1% rise in pre-tax profit. It attributed declining food sales to “tough trading and our actions to restore trusted value, including fewer promotions and price investment, and Easter timing”.

M&S opened 22 new Food stores in the period, but it is on track to close 100 full-line stores by 2022, having closed 21 sites in the first half. 

“We do plan to continue to open new Food stores, however as announced last year, we have scaled back the rate of Food store openings,” a spokesman said.

M&S chief executive, Steve Rowe, said: “In May I set out in our Facing the Facts presentation, the challenges we face and the steps we are taking in this the first phase of our transformation programme. Against the background of profound structural change in our industry, we are leaving no stone unturned and reshaping our business, its organisation and culture.

“This phase is about rebuilding the foundations of the future M&S and we are judging progress as much by the pace of change as the trading outcomes. Already, we have reorganised into a family of strong businesses in the biggest change to our structure for decades. We now have a largely new, very determined and energetic management team in place. M&S is becoming a faster, more commercial and more digital business.

“We are on track to restructure our store portfolio with over 100 full-line closures and expect to see newly remodelled stores open next year. We are fixing the basics of our online channel and there are very early signs of improvement. Every aspect of our ranges, how we trade, our supply chain and marketing is undergoing scrutiny and change.”

Meanwhile its clothing and home division saw a like-for-like sales decline of 1.1%, with total revenues dropping 2.7%.