M&S to ditch trading update at next AGM

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M&S AGM

Marks & Spencer has decided to ditch its usual trading update when it meets shareholders at its annual general meeting next week.

This means M&S will not be informing the market on its first quarter trading, as it has done in previous years.

The UK retail bellwether will now only report its full-year, half year and third quarter figures, which come shortly after Christmas.

The decision to keep its financial figures secret is reportedly part of plans by chairman Archie Norman – who was parachuted into the role in November last year to help with a turnaround scheme – to take a more long-term view for M&S.

Shore Capital retail analyst Clive Black said that while it was “relatively unusual” for a company not to provide a trading update at its AGM, there was no requirement for M&S to do so.

However, the board would be obliged to issue a financial statement if it believes it will miss profit targets for the full year.

“M&S is in a multi-year change programme with a new management team,” he said.

“Clearly that team wants the space to implement its plans with reduced stockmarket distraction and so it is pressing on.”

Independent retail analyst Richard Hyman said: “If they had good news, they would probably want to share it.

“This is a trading environment where it is actually sensible to spend more time on trading the business and less on talking about it.

“You really want your top people to spend as much time as possible on the really important stuff in the business.”

M&S recorded a 62.1 per cent plunge in pre-tax profit to £66.8 million in the year to March 31, primarily due to £321.1 million in costs linked to store closures.

In May, the retailer said it would accelerate its store closure scheme and aim to shut more than 100 outlets by 2022 as part of its transformation programme.

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