Marks & Spencer has said that while it expects its Food business to 'trade profitably' over the coming months, its Clothing & Home operations will face a 'substantial impact' on sales, due to the spread of coronavirus.
In a trading statement, Marks & Spencer said that it has seen sales benefits 'on a small scale' in food, due to customer stocking up, however its 'heavy bias to chilled and fresh means we are not seeing the forward buying uplift experienced by the major grocers'.
It added that it believes a 'significant shift' to eating at home, which is expected to materialise in the coming months, will benefit sales however.
The retailer is expecting to redeploy 'significant numbers' of its staff to its Food division in the coming weeks.
Clothing & Home
On its Clothing & Home business, M&S said that revenue will be impacted at the very least for the first three to four months of its coming financial year.
'Although it is possible that this may ease as we get into summer trading, margins are likely to be severely impacted by the surplus of unsold seasonal stock and probable clearance activity in the marketplace,' it said.
It noted that it is taking 'all possible steps' to defer supply to this division.
M&S also said that it expects its international business to see significant reductions in sales, with several markets adversely affected by local virus outbreaks, which has necessitated several closures.
It added that it expects some impact on its French and Irish businesses at the end of the year due to the completion of the Brexit process.
'M&S has served customers without cease through two world wars, terrorist bombings and numerous local disasters and we are determined to support our customers now as we always do,' the retailer said. 'We have one of the most loyal and committed workforces in retailing and are very grateful for the extraordinary cheerfulness and dedication they are showing in difficult times.'
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.