Financial News

  • 26 December 2013, 11:01

M&S Extends Clothing Sale Amid Poor Trading

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is to extend heavy discounting on clothing into a second day on Sunday as it attempts to drive sales during the most crucial period of its trading year.

Sky News has learnt that the high street giant will run another sale offering 30% off all clothing lines just three days before Christmas amid growing expectations of one of the toughest festive periods for retailers in years.

While food sales are said to have been satisfactory, M&S is understood to have been disappointed by the response to Saturday's clothing sale, prompting executives to decide during an evening conference call to repeat the event on Sunday.

The company is far from alone on offering heavy discounts on clothing, with 50% off usual prices at Banana Republic, French Connection and Reisss, and up to 60% savings on some lines at Gap.

M&S is, though, the most closely-watched of any retailer on UK high streets because of its scale.

It has tended to shun such significant pre-Christmas discounts under the leadership of Marc Bolland, its chief executive, although it occasionally ran them under Sir Stuart Rose, his predecessor.

Mr Bolland has been attempting to improve M&S's clothing sales by introducing new management and a focus on greater quality, but faces an anxious wait to see whether that translates into adequate trading.

Standard Life Investments, one of the retailer's biggest shareholders, said in January that disappointing Christmas trading last year meant that Mr Bolland was on borrowed time, although many investors are keen to give his strategy more time to take effect.

Some analysts are forecasting a fall in sales during the important third-quarter period, although the like-for-like measurement that will be provided by retailers in January does not indicate the profitability of their sales.

M&S declined to comment on Saturday.

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