M&S Clothing Sales: 12 Quarters Of Decline
Marks & Spencer (M&S) has faced frustration from shareholders after reporting a 12th consecutive quarter of declining clothing sales.
The company blamed the roll-out of its new website, which it had previously warned would take time to settle in, and said it had been less promotional in the period with an increased focus on margin.
Sales at M&S.com sank by a whopping 8.1% during the 13 weeks to 28 June on the same quarter last year.
Like-for-like clothing sales fell 0.6%, confirming 12 successive quarters of falling sales, but womenswear sales saw growth, as reported by Sky News on Monday night.
Marks and Spencer's like-for-like food sales were up 1.7% for the same period.
But it was the performance in clothing and the "settling in" of the new website that largely dominated the company's AGM in London - which began hours after the first quarter results were released.
One investor questioned the company's leadership - given the faltering fashion performance - but M&S outlined its belief that sales would soon pick up and be driven by its web offering.
The firm has invested £150m in the improved site as it bids to become an international multi channel retailer but teething problems have included issues with re-registration and navigation.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said ahead of the shareholder meeting: "We have seen a continued improvement in clothing, although as anticipated the settling in of the new M&S.com site has had an impact on sales.
"We are pleased that the womenswear business was in growth, driven by full price sales, in line with our increased focus on margin.
"Our food business had another great quarter, continuing to outperform the market, through our focus on differentiation through quality and innovation".
Mr Bolland said M&S was simplifying parts of the website, which currently has 3.2 million users, and expected the online business to be back in growth by the retailer's peak trading period which begins in November.
Shares in M&S rose 0.6% in early trading on the FTSE 100.