// M&S falls to a £87.6m pre-tax loss for the half-year, swinging from a £158.8m profit last year
// Half-year revenue slid by 15.8% to £4.09bn after it was impacted by lower clothing & home sales
// M&S says it performed “better than expected”, with half-year revenue falling less than initially predicted
Marks & Spencer has fallen to a loss for the first time in its 94 years as a public company after clothing sales were hit hard by enforced lockdown amid the pandemic.
The high street giant fell to a £87.6 million pre-tax loss for the 26 weeks to September 26, swinging from a £158.8 million profit in the same period last year.
The retailer told shareholders it performed “better than expected” during the first half, with revenue falling less than initially predicted.
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It said revenue for the period slid by 15.8 per cent to £4.09 billion after it was hit by lower clothing and home sales.
The clothing and home division saw sales dive 40.8 per cent over the half-year, with a 21.3 per cent decline in the second quarter as it benefited from the reopening of stores post-lockdown and strong online sales growth.
M&S said trading in October “has continued at similar rates” to the second quarter, with clothing and home sales down 21.5 per cent but food sales up three per cent.
Its grocery business performed “strongly” over the half-year, with like-for-like sales rising by 2.7 per cent thanks to substantial growth from its Simply Food stores.
Meanwhile, the retail giant hailed strong growth in its Ocado Retail joint venture, which started delivering M&S food as the start of September.
It said the partnership has reported a 47.9 per cent jump in sales, while profitability has also improved.
The update came as M&S continues to push forward with its Never The Same Again transformation programme.
It said the programme, which saw M&S slash 7000 jobs in August, would enable the business to emerge from the crisis in a “stronger, leaner and more focused position”.
“In a year when it has become impossible to forecast with any degree of accuracy, our performance has been much more robust than at first seemed possible,” M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said.
“This reflects the resilience of our business and the incredible efforts of my M&S colleagues, who have been quite simply outstanding.
“But out of adversity comes opportunity and, through our Never The Same Again programme, we have brought forward three years’ change in one to become a leaner, faster and more digital business.
“From launching M&S Food online with Ocado, to establishing an integrated online business division, ‘MS2’, to step-change growth, we are taking the right actions to come through the crisis stronger and set up to win in the new world.”
with PA Wires