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Fast growth for M&S online

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Online sales at Marks & Spencer grew by 27% to £413m in its latest financial year, as the retailer increased its focus on multichannel service.

Site traffic grew by 30% over the course of the 12 months, while the retailer increased its share of the online market to 5.6%, according to Kantar Worldpanel figures, from 5.3% last year.

The growth came, said M&S, in a year in which it “consolidated all of our shopping channels in order to become a seamless multichannel business, providing customers with the same high quality service every time and whichever way they choose to shop with us.”

Developments in its online service include a new Shop Your Way click and collect service which allows customers to order at home or in store and have their goods delivered anywhere they like. The service, now available in more than 300 stores, is scheduled to be in all stores by the end of the year. There is also a trial in some Simply Food stores.

Its website has also been relaunched in response to customer demand, with new features including catwalk videos, a more powerful search facility and stock availability information. Conversions, said the retailer, have increased since it was relaunched.

Finally, the launch of a fully-enabled mobile website came earlier this month.

The online results came against the context of the wider financial results, in which UK like-for-like sales, stripping out the effect of store openings and closures, rose by 0.9% in the year to April 3. Total group revenue rose by 3.2% to £9.3bn, of which £8.4bn was generated in the UK, a rise of 2.9%.

Pre-tax profits fell to £702.7m from £706.2m at the same time last year but adjusted pre-tax profits – before the effect of property sales – were up by 4.6% to £632.5m.

Sir Stuart Rose, chairman, said the worst of the recession was now over. But, he added: “Consumers are naturally concerned about any impact of the Budget on June 22. We therefore remain cautious about the outlook for the year ahead.”

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