Report: M&S responds to fashion sales slumpTuesday, 10 July 2012
Overall the fashion industry has been hit hard by the economic downturn, but companies such as Zara and even Debenhams and John Lewis have managed to keep consumers interested with their fashion ranges, collection drops and collaborations with well-known designers.
M&S saw its like-for-like sales fall by 2.8% in the UK between April and June, with total group sales falling 0.7%, however the British Retail Consortium said like-for-like retail sales across the UK rose by 1.4% in June, helped by the Diamond Jubilee.
M&S chief executive Marc Bolland commented: "general merchandise underperformed in a difficult trading season. We are confident we are taking the necessary steps to address this."
The company said clothing sales had been affected by the stock issues that first hit sales in the first three months of the year. In April, M&S admitted to running out of stock in some of its best-selling lines of womenswear. M&S' merchandising team failed to buy enough product in the categories that worked, prompting a sales loss of 60,000 dresses, which it could have sold if it could respond to topping up popular styles.
The retailer said it had "improved our buying and merchandising" to bring stock back on target for its autumn/winter collections, which will be launched later this month. This comes in the wake of the departure of its chief merchandiser Kate Bostock.
Analysts said M&S had been hit particularly hard by the weather. "While all retailers with seasonal lines are at risk from dramatically unseasonal weather, Marks have suffered more than most," said John Ibbotson at Retail Vision. Outside the UK, the retailer performed better, with international sales rising 0.9%.
In May, M&S reported its first fall in annual profits for three years. Pre-tax profits for the year to the end of March were £658m, down 16% from the previous year's £781m.
Image: M&S campaign