M&S Reports Second Year of Profit Decline on Fashion-Line Woes

Source: gocitygirl.com

LONDON, United Kingdom — Marks & Spencer Group Plc, the U.K.’s largest clothing retailer, said annual profit fell 5.8 percent as consumers spent less on its fashion goods, even as food sales increased.

So-called underlying profit before tax fell to 665.2 million pounds ($1.01 billion) in the year ended March 30, the London-based retailer said today in a statement. That compares with the average estimate of 663.3 million pounds from 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The retailer unveiled its new Autumn/Winter fashion range last week, which Chief Executive Officer Marc Bolland said was a “step in the right direction” with its emphasis on improved quality and styles, and has opened a new e-commerce distribution center to speed up delivery times. The company aims to boost its general merchandise margin over the next three years, it said today.

“We are working hard to get the general merchandise performance back on track,” Bolland said in the statement.

M&S shares reached a five-year high last week after analysts reacted positively to the revamped fashion range and a new general-merchandise management team. Underlying profit excludes gains and losses on property disposals, impairment charges and one-time pension costs.

By: Sarah Shannon; Editors: Kim McLaughlin, Celeste Perri