Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 7°C

min temp: 5°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.”

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

The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art at Palace House in Newmarket has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award just five months after it was opened officially by The Queen.

A Suffolk woman has set herself the challenge of completing 30 physical feats before her 30th birthday to raise money for charity in memory of her mum.

Suffolk and Norfolk have lost a quarter of all mental health beds in four years - faster than the national average.

Suffolk Beaver Scouts in Ipswich help raise some sweet money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice using empty Smartie tubes.

An independent ambulance service used in the region has suspended offering urgent care after it was hit with a long list of issues by health inspectors, including finding bodily fluids on equipment.

As villagers in the Suffolk birthplace of John Constable consider defecting to Essex to fight 144 houses, they have been warned the grass may not be greener.

The niece of a 67-year-old man who died from severe burns after setting himself on fire in Suffolk has described him as a “loving person” who struggled to cope with a change in his benefits.

A huge crane lifted away a broken section of Ewell Bridge on the A12 at Kelvedon last week.

A vintage cinema bus, jamboree and literary festival are just some of the activities booked for a bumper programme of events coming to the Shotley peninsula this summer.

More CCTV images of potential witnesses to the murder of Dean Stansby are being released by police.

Most read

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24