Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 23°C

min temp: 18°C

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.

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

Stock pic

A multi-car crash at the busy Yarmouth Road/London Road junction caused severe delays in Ipswich today (August 26).

Neil Farrow, organiser of the Ipswich Gin Festival

Ipswich is set to get its own gin festival next year, with dozens of food and drink companies set to get on board.

Honey Rose arriving at Ipswich Crown Court during her trial

An eye expert who missed serious abnormalities in the eyes of an “active and football loving” Ipswich schoolboy who later died has walked free from court after being given a suspended prison sentence.

Ben Gummer at his desk in the Cabinet Office. Photo: Robert Thom

In the final part of five three-minute interviews, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer explains why he enjoys being the town’s representative in parliament.

Clacton Air Show 2016 final day

Day two of the Clacton Airshow provided perfect conditions for flying off the beach – and allowed more than 100,000 visitors to watch the full display.

Police stock image

Three men have been arrested as part of proactive work to tackle the supply of drugs in the Leiston area.

Arrests made

Police are appealing for witnesses following two burglaries in Ipswich in the early hours of this morning.

Overhead view of the proposed Hill Gallop

A major investment in Newmarket horseracing has been unveiled as a five-year project gets closer to the finishing post.

Henry Dunham and Sam Crimp at the top of the Transfagarasan highway in Transylvania.

Two Suffolk adventurers who are walking to Nepal in tribute to a young mother-of-two who died from a brain tumour are currently making their way through Romania.

Arson at farm in Wherstead

Police are hunting an arsonist after tractors and farm equipment were destroyed in a fire on the outskirts of Ipswich.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

MyDate24 MyPhotos24