Britain

M&S plots food store growth as annual sales and profits fall

By James Sillars, business reporter

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has made a series of adjustments to its store closure programme as annual results show sales and profits falling.

Figures for the year to 30 March showed underlying pre-tax profits – a measure of profitability from its day-to-day trading – falling 10% to to £523.2m.

It reported like-for-like sales at its food halls declining by 2.3% over the 12 months – by 1.5% when the timing of Easter was factored in.

Image: The M&S food operation is to be expanded with smaller sites shut in favour of new, larger premises

Clothing and home sales were 1.6% lower – with its troubled womenswear offering declining by 1.6% amid stock troubles.

Total revenue was 3.6% lower – hit by the impact of store closures as the chain looks to shut more than 100 sites struggling to make ends meet.

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M&S updated investors on its transformation programme which aims to see M&S become a 'digital first' retailer but maintaining a strong store presence.

The company said it now planned to shut 120 full-line stores in total by 2023 – a slight drag on the earlier time frame of 2022 – with 35 closed to date.

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M&S at the Bluewater shopping centre
Image: M&S is seeking a more modern store estate

It added that 25 smaller food sites would go in favour of 75 larger food halls and said that, once completed, store numbers across the UK would be broadly flat as it exits old, uninvestable sites – many of them occupied since the 1940s.

M&S faced a backlash from investors in February when it announced a £750m deal with Ocado to secure home deliveries of its food for the first time.

It said on Wednesday that the sale of new shares to fund that joint venture hoped to raise £601.3m – with each rights issue share being sold at a 32% discount.

It is expected to get underway on Friday.

The company had previously warned of a cut to the dividend as part of its efforts to save cash – falling almost 26% to 13.9p a share.

M&S shares fell by more than 4% in early deals.

Analysts have warned the company remains in danger of losing its FTSE 100 status for the first time as its market valueRead More – Source

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