M&S blames sales slump on ‘dif­fi­cult’ Ir­ish mar­ket

Irish Independent - Business Week - - FRONT PAGE -

RE­TAILER Marks & Spencer has de­scribed trad­ing con­di­tions in the Repub­lic of Ire­land as “dif­fi­cult”.

The group also warned of a bleak out­look for sales growth over­all as it re­ported a de­cline in half-year rev­enue, but sur­prised the mar­ket with a higher profit fig­ure.

Rev­enue at the group dropped by 3.1pc to £4.96bn, re­flect­ing de­clin­ing sales in the food, cloth­ing and home di­vi­sions.

In an in­terim trad­ing up­date, the UK re­tailer said a de­cline in rev­enue in its in­ter­na­tional arm re­flected “dif­fi­cult trad­ing in the Repub­lic of Ire­land, which was largely off­set by con­tin­ued growth in In­dia” and other mar­kets.

The com­ment is out of keep­ing with re­cent re­tail trends, where tra­di­tional re­tail­ing in Ire­land has proven more re­silient than the UK. M&S said it does not ex­pect much im­prove­ment in sales in the near fu­ture, as it deals with “the growth of on­line com­pe­ti­tion and the march of the dis­coun­ters”.

“There­fore, as we em­bark on the dif­fi­cult early stages of trans­for­ma­tion, we are ex­pect­ing lit­tle im­prove­ment in sales tra­jec­tory,” the re­tailer said.

The com­pany has al­ready an­nounced plans to close around 100 stores in the UK, as well as ex­it­ing some in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, but said “sig­nif­i­cant fur­ther change” is re­quired.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Rowe said M&S needs to have a “con­stant churn” of lo­ca­tions to en­sure its store port­fo­lio is fit for pur­pose.

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