Clothing sales plunge 5.8% at M&S


Published: Thursday 8th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Marks & Spencer has reported more dire trading for its clothing division after it was beset by online delivery problems and unseasonal weather conditions.

The general merchandise division, which includes fashion, posted another quarter of declining sales over the Christmas period, with like-for-like sales down by a bigger-than-expected 5.8% in the 13 weeks to December 27.

Chief executive Marc Bolland highlighted an “unsatisfactory performance” in M&S’s e-commerce distribution centre but said its food halls were busy over the festive period after like-for-like sales rose 0.1% in the period.

Today’s figures for the general merchandise division are the worst since the start of the 2012/13 financial year and extend the run of declines in the division to a 14th quarter.

M&S said its new website performed well operationally but this was offset by disruption at its new distribution centre in Castle Donington, Leicestershire.

Customers complained that they were not able to make in-store click-and-collect orders for the next day, while deliveries to home addresses, which normally take three to five days, were taking up to 10 days.

M&S said it had made progress in addressing the issues and that its delivery service was now back to normal.

Trading in October and November was also affected by unseasonal weather conditions which M&S said impacted sales across the clothing sector and resulted in a highly promotional market.

The company added: “We deliberately held back the level of discounting especially in December. While this had an adverse impact on sales we delivered a good performance on gross margin.”

Published: Thursday 8th January 2015 by The News Editor

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