New M&S boss says clothing sales remain ‘unsatisfactory’

“Our priority is fixing clothing,” Steve Rowe said.

 

Sales in the clothing and home arm fell by 2.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the 13 weeks to 26 March.
Sales in the clothing and home arm fell by 2.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the 13 weeks to 26 March.

Steve Rowe, the new chief executive of Marks & Spencer, said the retailer’s clothing division was "unsatisfactory" as he unveiled another fall in quarter in sales.

Sales in the clothing and home arm fell by 2.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the 13 weeks to 26 March.

“Although the sales decline in clothing and home was lower than last quarter, our performance remains unsatisfactory and there is still more we need to do,” Mr Rowe said.

Mr Rowe, said turning around the brand’s clothing home business by improving customer offer was his “number one priority”.

An M&S veteran of 26 years Rowe replaced Marc Bolland as chief executive on the 2nd of April.

The result is still better than analyst prediction of 3 per cent fall in sales and an improvement on the 5.8 per cent decline over the Christmas period.

The retailer said food business continued to outperform a highly competitive market as like-for-like sales remained flat for the period.

“We had a mixed performance in the final quarter of the year. Our food business once again outperformed the market by 3.5 per cent,” Mr Rowe said.

Laith Khalaf, Senior Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said Marks and Spencer now takes £1 out of every £25 spent on food in the UK, putting it in the same basket as players like Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose.

“This is testament to how well their food business has grown, with 80 new stores opened over the last year. It also shows how the big supermarkets in the middle have been squeezed by the likes of Aldi and Lidl at the discount end of the market, while M&S and Waitrose have applied pressure at the premium end of proceedings,” Khalaf said.

David Cheetham of CFD and FX broker XTB.com said the results appear to be mildly positive when considered against the recent bleack back drop of prior earning.

“The main priority for the business now is to promptly address the Clothing and Home section of the firm with a 1.9 per cent drop in sales announced today giving the segment an incredible and unwanted record of 18 declines in the past 19 quarters,“ Cheetham said.

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