Marks and Spencer boss Marc Bolland yesterday called for more time for the effects of the retailer’s website overhaul to take effect after the high street stalwart posted its 12th consecutive quarter of falling non-food sales.
The 130-year-old retailer broke away from its technology supplier Amazon and launched its own custom-built £150m website in February, after more than three years of development.
But Bolland said it would take “four to six months” for the website to settle in after teething problems following its launch dragged online sales down by 8.1 per cent in the first quarter.
Underlying general merchandise sales were down 1.5 per cent, in line with what analysts had forecast but worse than the 0.6 per cent decline posted in the fourth quarter as the company made efforts to cut down on promotions.
Clothing sales from stores open at least a year fell 0.6 per cent but total clothing sales were up 0.1 per cent and the company said underlying womenswear sales were also “slightly” positive.
“We have seen a continued improvement in clothing, although, as anticipated, the settling in of the new M&S.com site has had an impact on sales,” Bolland said.
Speaking at the AGM in Wembley yesterday, he said that online sales would return to growth ahead of the peak Christmas trading window.
About 3.2m customers have so far re-registered compared to the 6m registered to the previous website.
Meanwhile M&S’s food business delivered like-for-like sales rising 1.7 per cent, although sales benefitted from the impact of a later Easter.