Marks & Spencer posts first loss in 94 years
Marks & Spencer has posted its first ever loss as publicly listed business after its clothing and homewares division suffered during the coronavirus crisis.
For the six months to 26 September, the retailer reported a statutory loss of £87.6 million compared to a pre-tax profit of £158.8 million in the corresponding period in the previous year. When adjusting items were excluded, M&S’s group operating profit declined by 77.1% to £61.8 million.
M&S said its business performed better than expected in the period with revenue down 15.8% to £4.09 billion compared to its forecast of a 22.8% decline.
Steve Rowe, M&S chief executive, said: “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. This reflects the resilience of our business and the incredible efforts of my M&S colleagues who have been quite simply outstanding.”
M&S said its food business put in a strong performance despite substantial Covid headwinds. Like-for-like sales climbed by 2.7% or by 6.6% when revenues from its cafes was excluded.
In contrast, its clothing and homewares division saw its revenue drop by 40.8% in the half-year after it was heavily impacted by the full Covid lockdown in its first quarter. However, online revenue increased by 34.3% after the retailer benefited from strong traffic, increased conversion and lower returns.
Looking ahead, Rowe said: “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.
“From launching M&S Food online with Ocado to establishing an integrated online business division ‘MS2’ to step-change growth, we are taking the right actions to come through the crisis stronger and set up to win in the new world.”
Photo by Georgia Hawkins
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