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Multichannel sales prove silver lining for M&S

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Ecommerce proved the one bright spot at Marks & Spencer today, as the retailer reported falls in both group and UK sales.

Multichannel sales put in a 14.9% rise in the 13 weeks to June 30, the company said in a first quarter interim management statement. That contrasted with a 0.7% fall in group sales and a 0.9% fall in UK sales. While UK food sales rose by 2.9%, thanks to good Jubilee sales and a new Simply M&S value range, sales of general merchandise fell by 5.1%, with clothing down as a result of “merchandising issues” such as stock availability. On a like-for-like basis, UK sales were down by 2.8%, with food up by 0.6% and general merchandise down by 6.8%.

Beyond multichannel, the only area of growth was in international sales, up by 0.9%.

Nonetheless, said M&S, the company was still making “strong progress against our goal of becoming an international, multichannel retailer.”

But with the figures came the announcement that general merchandise executive director Kate Bostock was leaving “by mutual consent”, to be replaced by John Dixon, previously head of home and direct sales, from October 1. Belinda Earl, former Debenhams and Jaeger chief executive, will report to him as Style Director from September.

Chief executive Marc Bolland, said: “Our food business has again performed strongly. General merchandise underperformed in a difficult trading season. We are confident we are taking the necessary steps to address this.

“We are pleased with the performance in multichannel and our key international businesses, which are continuing to make good progress.”

In other news, M&S also announced the promotion of retail director Steve Rowe is promoted to executive director, food, from October, while Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, previously a group president at Estée Lauder, joins in September as corporate director of strategy implementation and business development.

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