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M&Co eyes market share gains after profits double

Value fashion chain M&Co doubled its profits last year as sales and margins rose. The retailer generated operating profits of £15.2m in the year to February 26, compared with £7.5m the previous year. Total sales advanced by £19.2m to £181.9m.

Like-for-like sales surged 8.3% over the year. The retailer said in a statement: “This was encouraging as, for much of the year, the economy was in recession and it showed our customers liked not only the quality of our products but the value for money on offer.”

The retailer said womenswear and kidswear led the performance across its 300 stores and that it had increased fashionability across all departments. More product was sold at full price during the year than ever before, it added. Sales growth, combined with tight stock control, also helped M&Co increase its margins over the previous year.

M&Co, which was founded in 1834 and is one of the country’s biggest privately owned fashion groups, said it would increase market share by growing like-for-likes and opening more stores. The retailer opened 10 shops over the period and a further five have been acquired since the year end.

The retailer added that trading since the year end had been good but was tighter since the election, particularly in Scotland, where the poorer weather had impacted sales.

M&Co said it expected the retail market to get tougher, with price increases impacting at a time when there was likely to be more employment uncertainty and low economic growth. It said: “The race to the bottom in prices is not one that we have ever subscribed to and now that prices are going up much more than inflation there is bound to be a bit of a shake-down in the market as value becomes the issue.”

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