M&S in store revamps as profit climbs

MARKS and Spencer (M&S) yesterday unveiled a far reaching shake-up of its stores which will see branches in richer areas being stocked with more expensive lines.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said the move – based on the spending power and demography of a local area – would see products better reflect the requirements of shoppers.

Announcing a catalogue of sweeping changes he also said M&S would be opening a series of pilot stores to test new layouts. Allied with the store revamps he said the retailer would fight competitors to become a heavyweight online retailer.

He said the fact that online retailers trading only three years were selling goods in the US while M&S lagged behind signalled that its web offering needed an overhaul. “Our business is changing and we must change with it,” he said.

International growth overall will be powered by China, India and Europe while Bolland said any move to the US wold be “long term”.

M&S made profit before tax and one-off items of £714.3m in the year to 2 April, a rise of 13 per cent on the previous year.

But Bolland warned that times would remain tough on the high street. He said: “The consumer is concerned about job security. April was good but that was a distortion because of holidays, nice events and sunshine.”

Its shares closed 2.9 per cent lower at 385.6p yesterday.