M&S quarterly sales falls again amid ongoing restructure

M&S update
// Overall like-for-likes down 2.2%
// Overall total sales down 3.9%, underpinned by 2.7% drop in UK and 15.1% globally
// Retail bellwether insists on “steady” performance against backdrop of tough climate

Marks & Spencer has recorded another quarter of declining sales, but insisted its performance was “steady” and there were “encouraging early signs” as a result of its ongoing turnaround scheme.

Overall like-for-like sales at the retail bellwether dropped by 2.2 per cent, which was mainly dragged by a 2.4 per cent drop in like-for-likes from its clothing and home division.

M&S’s food division fared marginally better, recording a 2.1 per cent drop in like-for-likes.

On a total basis, M&S’s UK sales for the third quarter ending December 29 fell by 2.7 per cent year-on-year to £2.78 million.

This was dragged by a 4.8 per cent year-on-year sales drop from its clothing and home division, while its food arm saw sales drop by 1.2 per cent.

However, M&S’s international markets fared a lot worse, recording a 15.1 per cent drop in sales to £262 million.

Overall, M&S’s total group sales fell by 3.9 per cent to £3.04 million for the quarter.

The retailer said that despite the results, its like-for-like performance was “steady” and the transformation programme was on track.

It attributed the results in its clothing and home to lower footfall in stores, which was partly a result of the increasing pace of closures that came with the transformation scheme.

However, it highlighted online growth of 14 per cent driven by improvements to proposition and operations.

Meanwhile, M&S said food like-for-like revenue reflected price investment and the transition to trusted value with early signs of volume improvement and solid growth over the Christmas weeks.

The retailer added that its full year guidance remained unchanged.

“Against the backdrop of well publicised difficult market conditions our performance remained steady across the period,” chief executive Steve Rowe said.

He added: “The combination of reducing consumer confidence, mild weather, Black Friday, and widespread discounting by our competitors made November a very challenging trading period.

“However, overall our 13-week performance was steady with some early encouraging signs.”

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