Marks & Spencer Profit Drops Amid "Structural Issues"

M&S profits plunge 62pc amid sweeping store closure plans

M&S store closure costs result in 62% annual profit plunge

The retailer reported a 62.1% fall in pre-tax profit to £66.8 million in the year to March 31, as it was dragged down by £321.1 million in costs linked to store closures.

On Wednesday, M&S is expected to report further under performance in its food arm, with analysts projecting a drop in sales, but an improved bottom line.

The success of the low-priced clothing brand is a rare ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak picture for high street retailers.

M&S - which has 1,035 stores nationwide - said it will be cutting 25 per cent of its floor space devoted to clothing and homeware.

It now stands at £4.74bn versus the online specialist's £6bn. The company further updated investors on its ongoing shake-up, noting that the first phase of its transformation programme was "well underway".

Yesterday the retailer revealed the next 14 stores due to for closure under its programme.

M&S said that although online sales are growing, its online capability is "behind the best of our competitors and our website is too slow".

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe.

"At our half-year results in November I outlined the need for accelerated change at M&S".

"We have been clear about our plans to accelerate our store closure program and the action we must take to build a business with sustainable, profitable growth", an M&S spokesperson said.

"These changes come with short-term costs which are reflected in today's results".

"There are a number of structural issues to address and we are taking steps towards fixing these", Mr Rowe added.

"And we're concentrating on tackling the culture of the business, making M&S a faster, lower cost and more commercial digital business".

"In the past year traditional retailers like Marks have faced a flawless storm of rising costs, a constrained consumer, and the relentless growth of online competition", said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laith Khalaf.

"M&S is simply struggling to make progress in a world where a compelling mobile app is every bit as important as a presence on the high street, and considerably less expensive".

They added: "Other key areas of focus are likely to be the performance of the new Robinson's range extension, an update on the progress of the U.S. multi-pack Fruit Shoot penetration, the implications for H2 margins (if any) in light of recent moves in input costs, namely PET, aluminium and sugar and finally its view of the consolidation in the United Kingdom grocery retail market".

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