M&S announces plans to close another 110 stores as profits tumble

22 May, 2019, 21:40 | Author: Regina Silva
  • M&S in Exeter High Street

M&S is one of the best-known brands in British retail and traces its roots back 135 years to a market stall in Leeds run by Michael Marks, who went into partnership with Thomas Spencer ten years later.

United Kingdom food revenue was down 0.6 per cent, with like-for-like revenue down 2.3 per cent.

It said the food closures come as it focuses efforts on larger Simply Food shops with parking access, which will mean shutting and relocating smaller, less busy outlets.

"We will continue to accelerate the change, with our transformation becoming bigger, bolder and faster", its chief executive Steve Rowe told reporters.

Meanwhile, M&S also announced a rights issue - which is when a company issues news shares at a special price to existing investors in order to get more money for the group.

M&S set out on its latest turnaround plan shortly after retail veteran Archie Norman joined as chairman in 2017 to work alongside Rowe, who became CEO in 2016 and has been with the company for nearly three decades.

A decade ago, it made a profit of 1 billion pounds and prior to Wednesday's update analysts were forecasting another fall in the 2019-20 year. That meant clothing & home like-for-like sales, adjusted for Easter, fell 0.9%.

Steve Rowe said at the time: "I have always believed that M&S Food could and should be online".

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Clothing and home sales were 1.6% lower, dented by the timing of Easter and poor stock availability, while United Kingdom like-for-like sales were down by 2%.

"While there are green shoots, we have not been consistent in our delivery in a number of areas of the business".

In May 2018, M&S announced it would close more than 100 clothing and home stores by 2022, of which 85 are still open.

While he expected some improvement in trading in both clothing and home and food in the year ahead, progress was likely to be weighted to the second half. Trading in the first seven weeks was in line with the board's expectations.

The retailer, which has 1,043 stores, is part of the way though a big store closure programme. It plans a further 85 closures of full-line stores and 25 closures of Simply Food stores this year. The Ocado deal may well offer this increasingly irrelevant old retailer a new lease on life, but the size of the discount on the equity raising will only stoke concerns that M&S has paid too much.

Shares fell 5% as the results confirmed a hefty cut to its shareholder dividend payout, down 25.7% to 13.9p a share.

M&S said its full-year statutory pretax profit, which includes one-off costs such as £222.1m related to store closures, was £84.6m.

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