M&S speed up plans to close stores amid tough market
GROUP STILL WRESTLING ‘STRUCTURAL ISSUES’
MARKS & Spencer will speed up its plans to close underperforming clothing stores and will slow expansion of its Simply Food chain as its battles to restore its high street fortunes.
The group said it would further “reshape” the clothing and home arm to focus on the most successful locations, while also driving more online sales.
It will also slam the brakes on its Simply Food store opening programme amid “difficult” trading and launch a “significant” cost review under the next push of its turnaround plan.
Half-year figures showed a 5.3 per cent fall in underlying pretax profits to £219.1m for the six months to September 30.
Bottom line profits jumped to £118.3m from £25.1m a year earlier thanks to a boost from its international arm after exiting loss-making markets.
Like-for-like sales improved in its embattled clothing and home arm, down by a better-thanfeared 0.1 per cent in its second quarter after a 1.2 per cent fall in the previous three months.
M&S said revenues overall had stopped falling in the division, while its action to cut the number of clearance sales saw full-price sales surge by 5.3 per cent.
Food sales came as a disappointment though, down 0.1 per cent in the second quarter, as the group admitted it needed to review prices and ranges.
Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “The business still has many structural issues to tackle as we embark on the next five years of our transformation, in the context of a very challenging retail and consumer environment.”
The business still has many structural issues to tackle.
Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe
M&S saw like-for-like sales improve in its embattled clothing division. They were down by a better than feared 0.1 per cent in the second quarter following a 1.2 per cent fall in previous quarter.