M&S today reported fast online growth, as it started to deliver on its pledge to become a leading international multichannel retailer.
The retailer said its online sales grew by 31% in its latest financial year, as it unveiled its end-of-year results today.
More than 3m visitors a week are visiting the M&S Direct site, an 18% growth in traffic compared to last year. M&S said its online sales had outperformed the wider online market, which IMRG figures show is growing by 20% a year, and it also claimed a 5.6% share of the online clothing market, according to Kantar Worldpanel figures.
In its financial statement it said: “Over the year we worked on developing our multichannel business, making it even easier and more convenient to shop with M&S. We made a number of enhancements to our website, designed to improve customer experience and encourage more shoppers to complete their transactions, leading to an increase in conversion rates.”
M&S said its Shop Your Way multichannel service was now available in 444 stores, including 151 Simply Food stores. Meanwhile, its mobile site, launched last May, has seen 5.5m visitors, placing more than 59,000 orders. Social media engagement had brought it 295,000 Facebook fans and 26,000 Twitter followers.
“The use of social media is enabling us to engage with our customers and gain further insights into their shopping habits and preferences,” said M&S.
A new ecommerce platform is now being designed to be in place in 2013/14, while the company is working with existing supplier Amazon to grow its existing platform. Laura Wade-Gery, previously of Tesco, joins the company on July 4 as executive director, multichannel ecommerce.
Across the company, group revenues rose by 4.2% to £9.7bn, with a 4% rise in UK revenue to £8.7bn and a 6.1% rise in international sales to £1bn.
Underlying pre-tax profits, before one-off costs, rose by 12.9% in the 52 weeks to April 2 to £714.3m from £632.5m over the same period last year, while bottom line pre-tax profits were up by 11% to £780.6m from £702.7m last year.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said: "Marks & Spencer had a good year with sales and profits ahead of last year. We traded well in a challenging environment, growing our market share in both clothing and food.
"We did this by offering customers great quality and value, and more choice through innovation.
"In November we set out our plan to grow M&S into a truly international, multichannel retailer. We have made good early progress and are focused on both trading the business in the short term and on delivering against our long term targets."
The company said general merchandise sales rose by 3.2% on a like-for-like basis, with its share of the clothing market rising to 11.7%. Food sales rose by 2.6%, like-for-like.