M&S reports first loss for 94 years

Marks and Spencer has reported its first loss in the 94 years as a public company, after clothing sales were hit by the Coronavirus crisis.

The retailer's trading statement for the 26 weeks to 26 September showed a £87.6 million pre-tax loss, compared to a £158.8 million profit during the same period last year.

Revenue for the period fell by 15.8 per cent to £4.09 billion.

Its clothing and home division saw sales down 40.8 per cent during the half-year, with a 21.3 per cent decline in the second quarter.

Trading in October continued at similar rates, with clothing and home sales down 21.5 per cent, although food sales were up by three per cent.

Like-for-like grocery sales rose 2.7 per cent due to growth from the Simply Food stores. M&S' partnership with Ocado, which started delivering food as the start of September, has already led to a 47.9 per cent increase in sales.

Chief executive Steve Rowe commented: “In a year when it has become impossible to forecast with any degree of accuracy, our performance has been much more robust than at first seemed possible.

“But out of adversity comes opportunity and, through our Never The Same Again programme, we have brought forward three years’ change in one to become a leaner, faster and more digital business."

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