Business World

Tuesday 18 June 2019

M&S reveals 'difficult' trading conditions in Ireland

M&S ceo Steve Rowe. Photo: Adrian Brooks
M&S ceo Steve Rowe. Photo: Adrian Brooks

Holly Williams & Ellie Donnelly

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has posted a 10pc drop in its annual profits due to falling sales across its clothing arm and food halls as a sweeping overhaul takes its toll.

The high street bellwether posted underlying pre-tax profits of £523.2m (€596m) for the year to March 30, down from £580.9m (€662m) the previous year.

In the Republic of Ireland, the group described trading conditions as “difficult.”

The group also said that it had “re-platformed” its website for its business in the Republic of Ireland.

Boss Steve Rowe said there were "green shoots" of a turnaround, but added that performance was not consistent and had been hit by its store closure programme and wide-ranging revamp plan.

The group warned that it remained in the "difficult early stages" of its turnaround and progress will largely not come until the second half of 2019-20.

Comparable sales in its troubled womenswear arm dropped 1.6pc after a 1.3pc fall in the final three months, after it was hit by the timing of Easter and poor stock availability.

Like-for-like sales in its food halls fell 2.3pc following a 1.5pc decline in the fourth quarter, although this was also affected by the timing of Easter.

Mr Rowe said: "Whilst there are green shoots, we have not been consistent in our delivery in a number of areas of the business.

"M&S is changing faster than at any time in my career - substantial changes across the business to our processes, ranges and operations - and this has constrained this year's performance, particularly in clothing and home.

"However, we remain on track with our transformation and are now well on the road to making M&S special again."

(Additional reporting PA)

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