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M&S fashion and general merchandise sales drop 5.8%

Marks & Spencer has reported a 5.8% drop in like-for-like sales in general merchandise for the 13 weeks to December 27, making it the 14 consecutive quarters of falling fashion and general merchandise sales.

The retailer which described the pre-Christmas period as a “difficult quarter” for general merchandise experienced a 5.4% drop in total general merchandise sales.

Clothing like-for-like sales dropped 5.3% over the quarter.

M&S said the clothing sector performance was impacted by “unseasonal conditions in October and November” as well as disruption at its Castle Donington distribution centre which affected sales in December.

Online like-for-like sales fell by 2.7%.

However the retailer said there was lower discounting in December compared to 2013 and the gross margin remained unchanged at +150 to +200 basis points.

Marc Bolland, chief executive, said:

“We had a difficult quarter in General Merchandise, dominated by unseasonal conditions and an unsatisfactory performance in our e-commerce distribution centre. We maintained our focus on general merchandise gross margin, with guidance unchanged.”

Neil Saunders, managing director of Conlumino said: “Back in November, M&S’s numbers were showing some signs of improvement. Unfortunately, this dismal set of figures indicates this momentum has not been carried through into the Christmas quarter.The rejuvenation of M&S’s clothing offer is at a relatively early stage and it has not yet completely won back the confidence of consumers. This means that performance can easily be blown off course by negative headwinds; and the gusts certainly blew this Christmas.”

Readers' comments (8)

  • Surely something has to change.
    Bring in people that understand the customer & are able to develop great product that the customer actually wants to buy.

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  • It is so obvious why they are under performing. Do Head Offie staff visit their stores? Or only the nice one in Westfield, White City?

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  • The reason why the clothing sales was down was the Clothing Range was so poor

    And why are most of the Men's range of formal shirts are Slim Fit,
    When the Marks and Spencer Men's customer are more of a regular fit

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  • Ask any body consumer wise what is wrong and they will have a comment, problem is who is listening within the set up!
    The average customer is middle aged and the staff are even older. Just go and look at Marble Arch and its all before you. I think the product has improved,I think the store layout is better but there is confusion with so much duplication even the staff are confused . They still offer the best quality for the best price so the problem is letting the consumer know.

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  • They cannot convert their food customer to their clothing offer because that person wouldn't be seen in M&S clothes.
    I see senior executives still refuse to fall on their swords and blame those under them.
    Re e com warehouse: Wade Gray made the decisions which caused these problems, not the guys working there.

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  • I wonder how many lives the board have at M & S. Do you think their contracts are so generous that it would cost more to get rid of them !

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  • darren hoggett

    M&S are a classic example of a business that does not want to employ anyone who knows what they are doing. Ditto many others.

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  • If the gentleman wanting a classic fit send me his size I'll send him a lovely Thomas Pink shirt in classic fit. Erica

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