M&S shows its loyalty to struggling high street

Marc Bolland, the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, has reaffirmed its commitment to the UK high street at a turbulent time for the sector, as the April bank holidays helped it deliver a solid first quarter.

His reassuring comments came as M&S avoided a bloody nose over pay at its annual meeting yesterday, after investors backed the retailer's remuneration policy. In particular, shareholders supported its award of controversial "golden hellos" to Mr Bolland and Laura Wade-Gery, its head of e-commerce, and the £8.1m goodbye payout to its former chairman Sir Stuart Rose for long-term rewards.

But it was Mr Bolland's comments on the beleaguered UK high street that captured the eye.

He said: "We have at the moment 219 stores on the high street and our stores perform well. We are actually a sort of anchor of the high street so we are planning to invest in the stores. We have a strong belief in the high street."

M&S – which has more than 600 stores in the UK – plans to grow its estate by about 2 per cent this year. It will also, from this autumn, segment its products in a number of pilot stores, based on an area's demographics and affluence, for the first time in its 127-year history.

Mr Bolland's support for the high street followed a string of retailers, including Jane Norman and TJ Hughes, collapsing into administration in the past month. Yesterday, M&S said that market share gains in clothing and food had driven a 1.7 per cent rise in UK like-for-like sales for the quarter to 2 July.

However, while M&S may have fared better than some of its clothing rivals by growing market share by 20 basis points to 11.7 per cent over the 12 weeks to 15 May, according to Kantar Worldpanel, the retail giant's underlying clothing and other general merchandise (GM) sales in the UK were flat in its first quarter.

Indeed, this implies its GM volumes were down and sales by value would have been far worse if M&S had not raised its clothing prices by more than 6 per cent, partly to combat soaring cotton costs.

But Mr Bolland boasted its customers had continued to "buy once and buy well". He also highlighted "innovative" products, such as its Brazilian-cut knickers, of which it sold 500,000 pairs over the quarter.

In food, M&S grew UK like-for-like sales by 3.3 per cent, boosted by strong demand for party food ahead of the April bank holidays and royal wedding.

However, it also helped itself by launching more than 500 new products and a continued focus on its popular "Dine In" food promotions.

Total sales at M&S, which has more than 300 overseas stores in over 40 territories, rose by 3.2 per cent in the quarter.

At its AGM yesterday, M&S's shareholders gave a vote of confidence to its remuneration report, with 97 per cent voting in favour of it.

However, there was a bigger protest vote against the retailer's right to allocate shares to directors under its long-term incentive plan, with 16 per cent refusing to support it.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?