Marks & Spencer reports 63.5 per cent slump in pre-tax profits as chief executive Steve Rowe says turnaround remains "on track"

Rebecca Smith
Not so in fashion last year
Not so in fashion last year (Source: Getty)

M&S profits took a tumble for the year to 1 April, reporting profit before tax down 63.5 per cent, as the iconic retailer counts the cost of restructuring.

Read more: Pressures mount for M&S CEO Rowe

The figures

Profit before tax dropped 63.5 per cent to £176.4m from £488.8m this time last year, with the retailer noting significant adjusted items of £437.4m. M&S pointed to the drop in clothing and home sales, as well as the increased costs of new space as roadbumps for the retailer.

Underlying earnings dropped 10.3 per cent to £613.8m.

International profit before adjusted items rose 15.4 per cent to £64.4m, as the retailer exited stores in 10 loss-making markets.

Sales were pretty flat at £10.6bn.

However, the retailer is maintaining a total dividend per share at 18.7p, the same level as last year, "taking into account the strong cash generation of the business".

Shares initially fell 1.47 per cent to 382p in early trading, but bounced back and were up 2.23 per cent to 396.35p at the time of writing.

Why it's interesting

These results mark boss Steve Rowe's first year in charge at the high street stalwart, and all eyes have been on the chief executive to see if he could be the one to find a fix for the retailer's lacklustre clothing division.

After the 2016 festive quarter, M&S had posted its first underlying growth in nearly two years, but for its last quarter, revenue edged down 0.6 per cent at constant currency. M&S said it was hit by timings; both of the December sale falling in the third quarter, and the late Easter meaning that wasn't included either.

There's clearly work to do to get M&S clothing back in fashion. For the last quarter, clothing slumped 5.9 per cent, and for the year it was down down 3.4 per cent, though Rowe says the sale of full-year items, as opposed to discounted, was doing well.

Chairman Robert Swannell said it had been a year of "accelerated change" at M&S as Rowe set out his plan for a "simpler business". And Rowe, says his plans, which include opening new food-only stores and trimming discounting, are starting to take shape with market share stabilising.

What the company said

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: "Last year we outlined a comprehensive plan to build strong foundations for the future. We said we would recover and grow clothing and home, continue with our plans for food growth, remove costs and simplify the business. We achieved a huge amount in the year and whilst there is still much to do, I am pleased with our progress and we remain on track.

"As we anticipated, the planned restructuring of M&S has come with a cost and has impacted profits, but the business is still strongly cash generative and we reduced our net debt."

Looking ahead, we will continue our programme of self-help in a tough trading environment. We remain committed to delivering for our customers and shareholders as we build sustainable foundations for the future.

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