Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 5°C

ESTD 1874 Search

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

08:46 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.

shares

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.”

shares

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

A pothole

Potholes which currently have to be repaired in 24 hours could be left unattended for five days under proposals being considered by Suffolk County Council.

Protesters gathered in Fairfield Road in Framlingham to protest about the proposed housing development.

Survey responses from a Suffolk town at the centre of a heated housing campaign have shown support for new homes – of a certain sort.

Police are appealing for witnesses to find the missing man

A man who may have been seriously injured in a road traffic collision has gone missing.

Man in court over alleged fraud after telling couple further work needed doing to the roof of their home

An alleged rogue trader accused of doing work to the roof of a bungalow belonging to a Suffolk couple in their 80s without their agreement has claimed they asked him to do the work.

Teen robbed of phone and bike

Police are appealing for help to find two men who robbed a teenager at knifepoint.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue crews called to fire at Stowmarket home

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of arson and affray after a fire was started at a Suffolk home and officers threatened with a knife.

Trains cancelled due to lack of driver

A number of trains have been cancelled this evening due to an absent driver.

Suspected gas explosion on Federick Road in Gorleston.

 Picture: James Bass

Two people have been taken to hospital following a suspected gas explosion near Lowestoft.

David Murton (L to R) Paul Whiting and Bill Barton in front of the main telescope at the Orwell Astronomical Society. Photograph Simon Parker

Astronomy enthusiasts will be gathering outside Isaacs on March 20 to view the celestial event - and you are invited to join them.

The Ormiston mini marathon at Trinity Park in 2014

This weekend’s Ormiston Families Children’s Marathon has been postponed.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages