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M&S says it must accelerate change or fade away

M&S profits plunge 62pc amid sweeping store closure plans

Shares in M&S have fallen 26 percent over the previous year and the firm is in danger of being booted out of the prestigious FTSE 100 index.

The retailer's troubled clothing arm saw like-for-like sales fall by 1.9% in the year.

Shares in Marks & Spencer Group (LON:MKS) have jumped in London this morning, even as the blue-chip retailer revealed a hefty slump in full-year profits, reflecting costs related to its transformation programme.

That compared with profit after taxation of 117.1 million pounds a year earlier.

"M&S will now close over 100 stores in total by 2022, including 21 that have already closed and the 14 stores that are announced today as proposed for closure or set to close", the company said.

Marks & Spencer said it urgently had to modernise or risk fading away as it reported a second straight decline in annual profit and booked a £321 million charge for a store closure programme. Food gross margin is expected to decrease by as much as 50 basis points.

M&S profits plunge 62pc amid sweeping store closure plans
M&S says it must accelerate change or fade away

Clothing & Home revenue fell 1.4 percent to 3,741.1 million pounds for the 52 weeks to March 31, 2018, with like-for-like revenue down 1.9 percent. The announcement is in line with the next tranche of United Kingdom stores proposed for closure or set to close as it reshapes its United Kingdom store estate in line with its target to take at least a third of sales online. "Alongside relocations, conversions, downsizes and the introduction of concessions, these closures will radically reshape M&S's clothing and home space".

"There are a number of structural issues to address and we are taking steps towards fixing these", Mr Rowe added.

M&S is also improving its website and investing in its e-commerce capacity, including a site at Castle Donington, with the aim of doubling its online share of clothing and home sales to more than 33%. "The new organisation will largely be in place by July and the team is now tackling transforming our culture to make M&S a faster, lower cost, more commercial, more digital business", said Chief Executive Steve Rowe.

"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".

Commenting on the results Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown (Frankfurt: DMB.F - news), said M&S investors were essentially being asked to take a "leap of faith".

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