Sunday 4 December 2016

Marks & Spencer reverses fall in general merchandise sales

Published 02/04/2015 | 08:00

Marc Bolland, chief executive officer of Marks & Spencer Group
Marc Bolland, chief executive officer of Marks & Spencer Group

British retailer Marks & Spencer posted its best non-food sales performance for nearly four years today as it started to put its online distribution problems behind it.

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The firm said sales of general merchandise, spanning clothing, footwear and homewares, at stores open over a year rose 0.7pc in the 13 weeks to March 28, its fiscal fourth quarter.

The outcome was the first time in 15 quarters M&S has not posted a fall in non-food like-for-like sales.

It was also better than analysts' average forecast of down 1.2pc and followed a third-quarter decline of 5.8pc, which reflected unseasonal weather in October and November and disruption at its e-commerce distribution centre in December.

Marc Bolland, CEO since 2010, has spent billions of pounds addressing decades of under-investment at M&S, overseeing a redesign of products, stores, logistics and its website. But a new clothing team he set up in 2012 has so far failed to deliver a sustained increase in sales.

However, a food business outperforming the wider grocery market and improving profit margins both in non-food and food have kept investors onside, with the group's share price rising by a third over the last six months and recently hitting a seven-year high.

"We have made strong progress over the quarter," said Bolland.

(Reuters)

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