Marks & Spencer clothing sales down 2.8%

"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", Chief Executive Steve Rowe said in a statement.

M&S insisted it was " encouraged by early evidence that our strategy is working", with f ull-price sales up 2.7% with strong growth in the second half, and total market share stabilising at the end of its financial year.

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.

The sales dip for clothing and homeware marks a setback after an upturn in the Christmas quarter, following a succession of declines over recent years. In addition, our new Food stores continue to exceed our expectations.

"Last year we outlined a comprehensive plan to build strong foundations for the future".

"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", he said on Wednesday. The company will maintain its annual dividend at 18.7 pence per share, it said.

M&S said it plans to cut store space devoted to clothing and home products by around 1 per cent to 2 per cent and revamp around 25 per cent of its non-food shop space in the current financial year, while growing its Simply Food chain by around 90 new stores. Renewed focus on growth with our franchise and joint venture partners.

· United Kingdom costs up 3.8% due to costs of new space, IT investment and inflation, offset by efficiencies.

But the cost of its turnaround will continue to weigh on results, the group warned, particularly in the first half of the new financial year.

Q4 group revenue declined by 0.6% at constant currency. The comparison was hard as Easter didn't take place during the period this year. We estimate these factors had a combined effect of c. -3.8% on Clothing & Home revenues and c. -1.9% on Food revenues in Q4.

  • Zachary Reyes