Marks & Spencer hit by summer rains

City A.M. Reporter
Retailer Marks & Spencer posted its worst underlying quarterly sales performance for three and a half years after the wettest April and June since records began hammered trade in womenswear.

The firm, which sells clothes, footwear and homewares as well as upmarket foods, also said on Tuesday that the head of its non-food business Kate Bostock would leave the business, adding her name to a list of significant top management departures this year.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) said sales at UK stores open more than a year fell 2.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to June 30, its fiscal first quarter, in the firm's worst quarterly drop in sales since the third quarter of the 2008/09 financial year.

"General merchandise underperformed in a difficult trading season. We are confident we are taking the necessary steps to address this," said Chief Executive Marc Bolland.

The outcome compared with analysts' consensus forecast of a fall of 3 per cent, according to a company poll of 12, and a decline of 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of the previous year when the retailer erred by running out of best-selling women's knitwear and footwear lines.

M&S' like-for-like general merchandise sales, spanning clothing, footwear and homewares, fell 6.8 percent compared with analysts' consensus forecast of down 6.7 per cent.

Food sales on the same basis rose 0.6 percent versus analysts' consensus forecast of a rise of 0.8 percent.