In the first six months of fiscal year 2013/2014 British food and clothes chain Marks & Spencer saw a turnover of 4.889 billion pounds (5.8 billion euro), 3.6 % more than in the same period last year. The food branch helped increase the turnover, while the clothing branch dropped again, for the ninth quarter in a row.
Helen Mirren cannot save non-food
The food branch increased its turnover 5.3 % and even though part of the increase is because of an expanded network, there was still a 2.5 % turnover increase in stores that have been around more than 12 months.
The non-food branch, mainly consisting of clothes and domestic products, did not fare as well: its turnover grew 0.4 %, but like-for-like it ended 1.5 % lower than in the past fiscal year. Using a celebrity like Helen Mirren and shifting to a higher quality range of products did not help Marks & Spencer turn the tide.
The diverging evolution was also noticeable in the profitability figures: food increased its gross margin by 50 points, while non-food dropped 100 points. Financially that led to a 280.6 million pounds (334 million euro) global gross profit, slightly above last year’s levels.
Marc Bolland, the Dutch CEO, remained relatively positive about the future. The company restructuring is to blame for the weaker numbers in the clothes branch, with the first signs of improvement already showing, according to Boland.
(Translated by Gary Peeters)