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Worst clothing sales in over 10 years puts M&S masterplan in doubt

By Holly Williams

Published 08/07/2016

M&S blamed a
M&S blamed a "weak market" as consumer confidence was hit ahead of the EU referendum

Marks & Spencer’s worst clothing arm performance for 11 years has fuelled fresh fears over new boss Steve Rowe’s overhaul plans.

Branded as “painfully weak” by experts, the first quarter tumble is the biggest since former chief Stuart Rose — now Lord Rose — was struggling to turn around clothing sales in 2005 a year after taking the helm to fend off a takeover bid from Sir Philip Green.

Despite assurances from Mr Rowe and finance head Helen Weir that they are “doing the right thing” to cut back on promotions, there are concerns the move comes at a bad time amid fragile consumer confidence following the Brexit vote.

M&S stuck by its full-year profit expectations, but some analysts were not convinced and slashed their forecasts.

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said that retailers have faced “one of the toughest trading periods for clothing retailers since the financial crisis” due to the EU referendum as well as the wet and cold weather in the months of April and June.

He added: “M&S’s clothing figures are painfully weak and fail to stem the loss of market share to other more agile multichannel competitors.”

Online Editors

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