M&S profits plunge 62pc amid sweeping store closure plans
23 May, 2018, 17:40
"For investors a dividend yield of over 6% is an attractive stopgap, but at the moment Steve Rowe's promise to make M&S special again requires a leap of faith", said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
M&S is expected to report a second straight fall in annual profit on Wednesday, and with the retailer's shares down almost a quarter over the previous year it is in danger of soon being booted out of the FTSE 100 index.
Profit before tax and adjusting items was down 5.4 per cent to £580.9 million from £613.8 million the year before. At the end of 2017/18 M&S had 1,035 stores in the United Kingdom, with 300 Clothing, Home and Food, 696 Food-only and 39 Outlet stores.
Some closures are occurring to coincide with the opening of nearby M&S food stores, the retailer noted.
M&S wants to move a third of its sales online and plans to have fewer, larger clothing and homeware stores in better locations. "These changes come with short term costs which are reflected in todays results". Comparable food sales were down 0.3 per cent. Revenue nudged up 0.7 per cent to £10.7 billion.
The retailer, which had a total of 1,035 stores at the end of its 2017/2018 financial year, will publish its annual results on Wednesday.
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"The business.is starting to make decisions that have arguably been needed for many years", said Shore Capital analyst Clive Black, who has a "hold" stance on M&S.
M&S highlighted the continued migration of shopping for clothing and home online, together with the development of global competition and discounters as threats to its business and market position, which led to the decision to accelerate its transformation plan to modernise its business. "Accelerated change is the only option", it said.
"We are making good progress with our plans to reshape our store estate to be more relevant to our customers and support our online growth plans", said Sacha Berendji, M&S retail, operations and property director.
Currently, around 18 percent of M&S' clothing and home sales are made online.
There are a number of structural issues to address and we are taking steps towards fixing these.
"This is vital as we start to leverage the strength of the M&S brand and values across a family of businesses to deliver sustainable, profitable growth in three to five years".
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