Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 8°C

Search

Retail: M&S hails ‘clear signs of improvement’ as clothing sales edge higher

PUBLISHED: 08:46 10 April 2014 | UPDATED: 11:42 10 April 2014

Marks & Spencer today reported better than expected sales figures.

Marks & Spencer today reported better than expected sales figures.

Archant

Marks & Spencer delivered better-than-expected sales figures today amid signs of a revival for its struggling womenswear business.

The retailer said clothing sales rose 0.6% on an underlying basis in the 13 weeks to March 29, driven by “clear signs of improvement” in womenswear following last autumn’s relaunch of its M&S Collection.

Marks said in a trading update: “Customers are responding well to our refocus on quality and style.”

However, across the general merchandise business, which includes homewares as well as clothing, like-for-like sales were 0.6% lower in the quarter.

It means the company has suffered three years of declines in the division, although today’s figure was better than the 1% fall expected in the City.

The company, which has hired new senior personnel and launched a celebrity marketing push in a bid to revive its fashion business, said the improved performance came in the face of high levels of discounting.

It added: “Despite some improvement in consumer confidence, we remain cautious about the outlook. Our focus is on continuing to transform Marks & Spencer into an international, multi-channel retailer.”

Marks said its food department had a “great quarter”, with the later timing of Easter failing to prevent an 18th quarter in a row of like-for-like growth.

However, with the resilient sales performance having been offset by continued pressure on margins, the City expects annual results from M&S, due to be published on May 20, to show a 6% fall in profits to £623m.

It will mean the 130-year-old company being overtaken for the first time by rival Next, a relative upstart at 32 years old, which last month announced profits of £695m.

Freddie George, a retail analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, kept his “sell” rating on the stock today and warned the profits figure could go as low as £610m.

He added: “We continue to believe it will take a number of seasons before the existing team is able to manifest a marked improvement in performance in womenswear.”

Search hundreds of local jobs at Jobs24

1 comment

  • I think that 'clear signs' are more likely than 'clear sings'. Please proof read before publishing.

    Report this comment

    Pop-pop

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

Explore the world of coding at the Waterfront Raspberry Pi event

Shop fitting for the high-end fashion retailer Joules is underway in Ipswich after boards with the shop’s branding were erected last week.

Having been a top TV producer in London, Rachel Aldridge knows better than most what it takes to run a successful shoot. Jason Noble caught up with her to find out how the film industry can thrive in Suffolk

With 60 years in the retail business, shopkeeper David Coe still has no plans for retirement.

Staff at East Anglian law firm Birketts are pushing themselves to their physical limits for charity.

Management Jobs

Show Job Lists

Most read

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24