Marks & Spencer sales edge up in Q4
Marks & Spencer saw its UK like-for-like sales edge up 0.6% in its fourth quarter driven by strong food sales, although sales of general merchandise continued to fall.
In the 13 weeks to 30 March 2013, food sales increased by 4% on a like-for like basis in the UK as the retailer enjoyed its biggest ever Easter week. Marks & Spencer said it was becoming the destination of choice for special occasion food and that its investment in operational execution had helped to improve product availability.
However sales of general merchandise, which spans clothing, footwear and homewares, fell 3.8% although the retailer said it was "working hard" to improve performance in what it described as difficult trading conditions. Chief executive Marc Bolland said: "Customers are responding well to better editing of our Spring/Summer product ranges particularly our recent ‘Perfectly’ campaign. The new team has started to deliver operational improvements, with both availability and stock management ahead of last year."
Group sales rose 3.1% in the quarter while total UK sales grew by 2.6%. The rise in UK total sales included a 6.3% increase food sales and a 2.2% fall in sales of general merchandise.
Multi-channel sales climbed 22.9% as growth accelerated in the quarter due to the increased popularity of the retailer’s Click and Collect service, ‘Shop Your Way’ initiative and increased traffic to its website.
Mobile sales were up 70% on last year as Marks & Spencer improved the mobile shopping experience for customers including an upgrade of its mobile app. A new e-commerce distribution centre will begin operating later this month and the retailer’s new web platform is on track to launch in spring 2014.
Marks & Spencer said its international business continued to perform well with sales rising by 7% as a key franchise business in the Middle East delivered a good performance and markets in India and China continued to trade strongly.
Looking ahead Bolland said: "In January we said we expect the pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes to continue throughout 2013. As a result we were cautious about the outlook for the year ahead and this view remains unchanged. We continue to make good progress in transforming Marks & Spencer from a traditional UK retailer to an international multi-channel retailer."
Marks & Spencer Group will report its full year results on 21 May 2013.
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