M&S forced to ‘face facts’ after food and clothing sales slip

Marks & Spencer saw revenues fall on weak food and clothing sales, while profits rose because of cost-cutting measures.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) (LON:MKS) saw group revenues fall 3.1% to £4.96 billion, down from 5.1 billion in the same period last year, after a decline in food and clothing sales.

But despite the dip in sales, the company was able to record a 2% rise in profits to £223.5 million, up from £219.1 million in the H1 2017, with cost-cutting measures offsetting its weaker performance.

In May, the company laid out its ‘resorting the basics’ agenda, which aims to create a ‘profitable, growing family of businesses’ in the next three to five years.

The agenda is one of several turnaround plans that the company has embarked on in a bid to improve its performance, with its recent H1 results showing that like-for-like sales across food, clothing and homeware have all fallen.

M&S ‘facing the facts’

Over a decade ago, M&S recorded profits of more than £1 billion, making its most recent set of results a major cause of concern for the company, which has seen its profits decline sharply over the last 10 years.

A transformation programmed aimed at rectifying the company’s issues were outlined in its ‘Facing the Facts’ presentation in May, with M&S’ CEO Steve Rowe saying that the business will leave ‘no stone unturned’ in its effort to reshape the organisation.

‘This phase is about rebuilding the foundations of the future M&S and we are judging progress as much by the pace of change as the trading outcomes,’ Rowe said. ‘Already, we have reorganised into a family of strong businesses in the biggest change to our structure for decades.’

As it stands, M&S is on track with its restructuring plans, which will see the company close around 100 stores by 2022 and those that remain being remodelled.

‘We are fixing the basics of our online channel and there are very early signs of improvement. Every aspect of our ranges, how we trade, our supply chain and marketing is undergoing scrutiny and change,’ Rowe added.

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