M&S criticised for slow progress

Marks & Spencer concept stores have all the right elements for success but are being rolled out too slowly, say City analysts, in the wake of the six-month figures released yesterday.

Marks & Spencer concept stores have all the right elements for success but are being rolled out too slowly, say City analysts, in the wake of the six-month figures released yesterday.

Despite figures being better than expected, sales still fell for one of the UK’s oldest clothing and food retailers. Profits dropped from &£192.8m to &£183.4m for the 26 weeks ending 30 September 2000, compared with the same period last year, with turnover at &£3,755.8m – similar to last year’s &£3,689.9m. Like-for-like sales in the five weeks to November 4 were down 8.4 per cent.

M&S announced it would close satellite stores in Edinburgh, Watford, Bristol, Bromley, Norwich and Leeds, while reducing space in Bath and Derby.

Henderson Crosthwaite analyst Mathew Mclechdon says the new concept stores, 16 of which are trading, with another nine planned to open before Christmas, have all the elements to help the struggling chain – but the company is moving too slowly. He says an influx of external appointments is needed to speed up its recovery.

Retail Intelligence analyst Brian Roberts says the interim results are “absolutely awful”. He adds: “In the last trading statement, concept stores showed double digit sales uplift, but it will take some time to roll out key features, like signage and promotional merchandising.”

Roberts says he expects a considerable roll-out announcement after the Christmas trading period for the new concept stores.

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