Business World

Tuesday 20 February 2018

M&S shares up 4.5pc despite sales drop-off

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Shares in Marks & Spencer jumped 4.5pc to £5.09 (€6.06) yesterday despite the UK's biggest department store operator reporting its ninth consecutive quarterly decline in underlying general merchandise sales.

The retailer said that like-for-like general merchandise sales fell 1.5pc in the first half of its financial year, but like-for-like food sales fared better, climbing 2.5c. Total UK like-for-like sales were 0.7pc higher, while its international business posted an 8pc sales rise.

Total group sales hit £4.9bn (€5.8bn) in the period, up from £4.7bn a year earlier, while underlying pre-tax profit fell to £261.6m (€311.6m) from £287.3m.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said the company is continuing to invest in the business.

"We are pleased with the progress made, given the high level of activity and a number of key projects launching this year," he said.

The retailer also warned that while consumer confidence in the UK appears to be improving, there is "little evidence" of this translating into increased spending in the retail sector.

It added that its profit forecasts for the full financial year remain unchanged. It said trading in Ireland continues to be difficult.

M&S announced during the summer that it was closing four of its Irish outlets.

Irish Independent

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