The stock shortages cited by Marks & Spencer in its fourth quarter results as a reason for a dip in general merchandise sales are a “red herring”, according to industry sources.
Chief executive Marc Bolland admitted this week that M&S had not bought deeply enough into women’s knitwear and outerwear, which contributed to a 2.8% dip in like-for-like general merchandise sales for the 13 weeks to March 31.
One industry commentator said he believed the retailer’s focus on stock shortages was a “red herring” designed to detract from the fact that M&S “hasn’t got it quite right on womenswear”.
Rival retailers added that not buying deep enough into best-selling lines is a common problem. “It is better to back the right product and sell out than back the wrong product and not sell it,” said one.
Bolland said the retailer sold 100,000 items of M&S Woman knitwear during February but could have shifted 300,000 if it had enough stock.
Group sales rose 0.8% in the quarter. Total UK sales climbed 1.2% led by food, while clothing sales fell 0.3%.