M&S has revealed positive group sales of 1.9% for the 13 weeks to 26 March 2016, however like-for-like food sales are flat while clothing and home continue to struggle.
LFL Food salesat 0.0%
Total M&S Food sales increased by 4.0% in Q4, driven by 80 store openings in the year. Like-for-like sales however came in flat, showing a decline in food performance after 25 consecutive quarters of LFL growth. While the grocery market remains challenging and competitive, it seems shoppers are still turning to M&S for special occasions with the retailer experiencing its biggest ever Mother's Day. NPD remains a priority for M&S with 400 new lines launched in the year.
Clothing and home continue to struggle
M&S' clothing and home categories continue to struggle with total sales down 1.9% and LFL sales down 2.7%, however both results are asignificant improvement from Q3 when M&S announced its plans to focus on availability, range and design. Small but positive signs of this new strategy are coming through with Autograph sales up 10% as a results of improvements to range and design.
M&S.com and international sales drive growth
A good performance online with sales up 8.2% as speed and ease of navigation on the website were improved. In addition, M&S aimed to simplify the online shop with fewer 'online only' promotions in a move to create a more consistent approach between online and offline.
The retailer's international stores performed well, showing an improvement on the previous quarter with sales up 3.8%, however M&S is cautious that full year profitability will be impacted by challenging conditions across many of its markets.
What we can expect from Steve Rowe
M&S' Q4 results come days after new chief executive Steve Rowe has taken up his position, replacing Marc Bolland. Rowe has labelled the Q4 GM performance as 'unsatisfactory' and aims to turn the clothing and home business around by making the customer experience the number one priority, with customers becoming central to the retailer's plan and thinking. It will be interesting to see how Rowe goes about this customer-centric approach in order to turn around the GM business, while also ensuring that the food business remains in growth. Rowe will share his thoughts on 25 May 2016 when M&S reveals its full year results.
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