Fashion and home retailer based in the United Kingdom, M&S has released its trading update titled ‘Steady performance in difficult markets and transformation plan on track’, for 13 weeks to December.
The company said that its UK sales fell 2.2% on a like-for-like basis and 2.7% in total to £2.78 billion. Its food sales fell 1.2% in total but, more importantly for the fashion industry, the Clothing & Home division was down a much worse 4.8%, or 2.4% on a like-for-like basis. The unit’s sales dropped to £1.1 billion.
And international sales fell as well, although the large size of the drop (15.1%) was mainly due to the sale of its Hong Kong business to its franchise partner and the closure of stores in loss-making markets. Factoring those out, international revenue was down only 1.4%.
The company said that the Clothing & Home revenue decline reflected “lower footfall to stores, partly as a result of [the] increasing pace of closures.”
At least there was that good news about online sales, which was especially encouraging given that M&S has a chequered history with its webstore that hasn’t always delivered the results it was hoping for.
This time, however, it seems that “improvements to [its] online proposition and operations helped [it] to mitigate lower footfall to stores resulting from, in part, the increasing pace of change in the store estate.”
As the 14% rise shows, its Clothing & Home online sales performance was strong, supported by an increased focus on digital marketing together with improvements to delivery proposition and operations.