MARKS and Spencer has revealed annual profits at the top end of expectations.

Britain's biggest clothing retailer said yesterday that group pre-tax profits rose 11.5 per cent to £721.3m in the year to March 29, with UK clothing sales rising by ten per cent.

Womenswear, menswear and lingerie all showed gains for the period, with casualwear ranges showing a "particularly strong performance".

The company reported slower sales growth last month as consumer confidence fell.

M&S has been working to reinvent itself after enduring a three-year sales slump.

It brought in new designers, switched to cheaper suppliers and rebranded some of its fashion lines to help reverse the decline.

But recent data has raised concerns among analysts that conditions on the high street are getting tougher, with shoppers tightening their purse strings.

Childrenswear again proved "disappointing" for the company. During the year M&S introduced a range of a David Beckham-branded clothes for children, but these failed to rescue the overall flagging performance of childrenswear.

M&S has revised its estimates for general high street growth, which normally runs at between three per cent and five per cent a year.

Chief executive Roger Holmes said: ''We now see that being subdued to less than three per cent, but still growth."

M&S is planning to open 50 food-only stores in the coming year, as well as launching a combined credit and loyalty card across the UK and opening a new concept Home store.

As yet, the company is unable to confirm whether any of the food stores will be built in the North-East or North Yorkshire.

M&S said group capital expenditure would rise this year to £560m, compared with £311m in the year under review.

Expenditure is going up due to the acquisition of warehouses, the moving of the head office to London's Paddington Basin and investment in the food-only operation Simply Food and the Home business.