M&S profits slide as it plots shift to online

Marks and Spencer has announced a 9.9 per cent fall in pre-tax profits for the year to April as the High Street stalwart shifts its focus online.

Annual figures showed underlying pre-tax profits down to £523.2 million, amid store closure plans and confirmation of a £600 million share sale deal with Ocado to launch its online food delivery business.

Like-for-like food sales in the fourth quarter of 2018 were on track, with revenue up 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, but down 2.3 per cent over the 12 month period, and down 1.5 per cent when the timing of Easter was taken into account.

Clothing and home sales were down 1.6 per cent year on year, with the retailer highlighting growth in online sales to 33 per cent of total UK clothing and home revenue, compared to 19 per cent last year.

M&S confirmed it was making changes to its store closure process, with 26 full-line stores closed as part of a strategy to close 120 stores by 2023 – a slight expansion of its original plan to close 100 by 2022.

It is also planning going ahead with 48 new store openings planned for the year, with 25 smaller food sites closing in favour of 75 larger food halls, as it seeks to make cost savings of £100 million.

The company told investors its transformation strategy would make M&S a “digital first” retailer, while ensuring it keeps a strong store presence.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “We are deep into the first phase of our transformation programme and continue to make good progress restoring the basics and fixing many of the legacy issues we face.

“M&S is changing faster than at any time in my career - substantial changes across the business to our processes, ranges and operations and this has constrained this year’s performance, particularly in clothing and home.”

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