Marks & Spencer slows rate of decline in clothing sales

12 July, 2017, 00:43 | Author: Gladys Mathis
  • Marks and Spencer

"In a relatively succinct Q1 statement, Marks & Spencer (M&S) has confirmed reasonably subdued trading for the 13 weeks to 1st July whilst also confirming that the "shape" of trading has been in line with expectations and that full year guidance remains unchanged".

The group's food sales were lower than expected and remained in the red despite surging inflation, which M&S said was running at around 2% in its first quarter.

However, like-for-like food sales dipped by 0.1% - which was worse than expected - and without Easter falling in April, comparable revenue across the United Kingdom business would have declined further. Not only did the clothing and homewares sector see another 1.2% drop in sales, the second consecutive decline, but the all-important food sector also saw a decline in sales, dropping 0.1%, whereas estimates had looked for a pick-up of 0.6%.

"With further changes in year-on-year trading and promotional strategy to come, we do not anticipate a clean LFL trading number to emerge until the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2018", he said.

However, total United Kingdom sales benefitted from store openings to rise 2.6%, lifting group sales to 2.7%, or 1.8% without any boost from currency moves as global sales rose 3.8%.

Food revenue increased 4.5%.

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In clothing, a key tenet of the plan has been to cut back on discounting, with the quarter seeing revenue down 0.5% in line as full price sales were up roughly 7% the number of promotions was reduced and there was no clearance sale in the quarter compared with one previous year.

There was a need for "stronger promotions", he said, adding that the performance of stores was also being affected by expansion as new M&S food outlets sprung up on their doorstep.

She said: "Analysts are starting to question whether M&S is falling behind its peers, particularly in food and drink sales".

A year and a half after ascending to the top job, chief executive Steve Rowe's restructuring work continues, having last year reported a 64% plunge in profits on modest revenues growth of 0.6%.

Global revenue increased 3.8% (down 4.0% in constant currency).

The immediate market reaction has been to sell M&S shares on the back of this news, and the share price continues to linger below the 20-day moving average, which is a bearish sign.

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