M&S speed up plans to close stores amid tough mar­ket

GROUP STILL WRESTLING ‘STRUC­TURAL IS­SUES’

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS -

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

CHAL­LENG­ING TIMES:

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.

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