Embattled Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland remained defiant today, insisting the retailer’s fashion sales were “moving in the right direction” despite womenswear revenues dropping by 0.8% in the first half of the year.
Speaking at a press briefing, Bolland emphasised the positives of the interim results, pointing out that womenswear sales grew 1.3% in the five months to August 31 but were dragged down again due to September’s warm weather.
“Womenswear is improving; the product is better quality, it’s stylish and inspiring,” said Bolland. “We have been told by our customers that M&S has got its style back. Our general merchandise is moving in the right direction.”
Like-for-like fashion sales fell 3.4% for the three months to September 27, the 14th consecutive quarterly decline, and fell 2.2% in the first half. Bolland refused to discuss menswear or kidswear sales, which observers took to mean they were not positive.
Sales at M&S.com, which relaunched in February, dropped 6.3% over the 26 weeks. Bolland put on a brave face and said it was to be expected given the enormity of shifting onto its own platform from the previous one hosted by Amazon.
He said online sales at the end of the second quarter were “nearly flat, so we’re now moving towards growth”.