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Retail

M&S Sees Food Sales Up, But Clothing Sales Hammered By Lockdowns

Marks & Spencer has reported another big fall in clothing and homeware sales in its Christmas quarter, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit demand and restrictions to stem the spread of the virus closed stores.

Marks & Spencer, one of the best known names in British retail, said revenue in its clothing and home division slumped 25.1% in the 13 weeks to December 26, its fiscal third quarter, having fallen 21.3% in the previous quarter.

M&S said food sales were up 2.2% in the quarter, having increased 1.6% in the second quarter.

It said food performed well in the four-week lead up to Christmas, with like-for-like sales, excluding hospitality and franchise up 8.7%, with large retail park and Simply Food stores significantly outperforming.

'Accelerate Trade'

“Given the on-off restrictions and distortions in demand patterns our trading was robust over the Christmas period," said chief executive Steve Rowe. "More importantly beneath the Covid clouds we saw a very strong performance from the Food business including Ocado Retail and a further acceleration of Clothing & Home online.

"Near term trading remains very challenging but we are continuing to accelerate change under our Never the Same Again programme to ensure the business emerges from the pandemic in very different shape."

The group said "good progress" in repositioning clothing and home ranges and buying was concealed by the COVID-19 restrictions and demand distortions.

It said a store sales decline of 46.5% was partly offset by online sales growth of 47.5%.

M&S's international revenue decreased 10.4% impacted by changing restrictions related to the pandemic across the world.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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