MARKS & SPENCER reported worse-than-expected fourth quarter sales yesterday after the retailer was hit by a shortage of stock across some of its best-selling women’s clothing lines.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said the company had been caught out by February’s cold snap, when it failed to meet demand for items such as coats and knitwear.
“We sold 100,000 items on knitwear and we could have sold about 300,000 items, so that was a miss we had simply in our merchandising planning,” he said.
Bolland said the group had also underbought in other areas such as footwear, where it could have sold twice the amount of pumps than predicted.
“That was a miss in our merchandising planning. We were bang on-trend but we should have had a bit more of some of our lines,” he said.
The shortages in stock led to total like-for-like sales falling by 0.7 per cent in the in the three months to 31 March. Analysts had forecast a rise of around 0.8 per cent.
Merchandise sales – which includes clothing, footwear and homewares – at stores open more than a year fell 2.8 per cent against analyst expectations of a 0.2 per cent rise.
Total clothing sales fell by 0.3 per cent after the shortages in womenswear offset a good performance across other categories like children’s clothing and menswear.
Homeware sales fell 7.5 per cent, but this was largely due to Marks & Spencer’s decision last month to stop selling electricals.
Marks & Spencer said its food division “performed well against tough comparatives” with sales increasing by one per cent, in the quarter.
International sales declined by two per cent after its successful store opening in Paris failed to offset weakness in Ireland and Greece.
The company said it was sticking to plans to revamp its stores but said this would cost £100m less than the previous guidance of £600m.
STRONG FOOD RESULTS BOOST RETAILER’S SALES
DIRECT SALES +22.8%
GROUP SALES +0.8%
TOTAL UK SALES +1.2%
LIKE-FOR-LIKE UK SALES -0.7%