M&S reports profit fall for third year running

Marks & Spencer: summer 2014 campaign
Marks & Spencer: summer 2014 campaign

Marks & Spencer has recorded a profit fall for the third year running, with underlying profit before tax down by 3.9% to £623m.

Total group like-for-like sales grew by 0.2%, which is made up of a 1.7% growth in like-for-like food sales and a 1.4% drop in like-for-like general merchandise sales.

The retailer said its priority over the past year in the UK has been to ensure that it offers an improved shopping experience to its 20 million strong customer base each week, and that this plan is now in its second phase.

Marks & Spencer said its strategy, introduced in May 2013 to deliver "quality and style" with upgraded fabrics, streamlined sub brands and the launch of the M&S collection, supported by its Leading Ladies campaign, helped to "return the general merchandise division to growth in the fourth quarter for the first time in three years". 

The brand introduced its long-awaited new site this year and said its online sales had risen by 23% in the past year. "As customer shopping habits continue to evolve" its mobile sales have increased by 90%.

M&S said the new site will still take another four to six months to "settle in".

Chief executive Marc Bolland told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that M&S has made "solid progress".

He said: "General merchandise is not yet satisfactory. But a lot of the heavy lifting has been done," adding that since he took the helm three years ago, there has been heavy investment in the retailer to make it "fit for purpose".

"We are improving step by step," he said.

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