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M&S expected to report drop in clothing sales

Marks & Spencer is expected to report a drop in general merchandise sales, its ninth consecutive quarter of falling clothing revenues, when it reveals its interim results tomorrow.

Analysts are predicting that M&S will announce a 10% fall in pre-tax profit for the six months to September 30 to £262m. Like-for-like sales across M&S’ general merchandise arm, which includes clothing, are predicted to be down 1%-2%.

Independent analyst Nick Bubb said: “The underlying picture is one of flattish sales, rising operating costs and gross margin pressure…trends that obviously need to change in H2 if chief executive Marc Bolland wants to keep his job.”

Last week Retail Week reported that M&S has stablised its clothing business. In the 24 weeks to September 30 M&S’s market share in clothing was flat compared with the previous period, according to figures leaked from Kantar.

Retail billionaire Bill Adderley also last week revealed he had built up a 3% stake in the retailer. Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, the founder of Dunelm said “too big a deal” has been made of the underperforming general merchandise division and that he would “encourage them to keep doing what they are doing”.

With regards to Bolland he said: “He is giving 120%, what more could you ask for?”

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