viewMarks and Spencer Group PLC

Marks & Spencer clothing sales nosedive in weak market

Clothing and home sales fell 8.3% and like-for-like sales fell 8.9% in a weak market

Rowe's clothing recovery plan includes cutting prices and reducing promotions

Marks and Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS) looked set to stay out of fashion with investors on Thursday after its beleaguered clothing business took another dive.

Clothing and home sales in the first quarter fell 8.3% year-on-year and like-for-like sales fell 8.9% in what the chain described as a weak market, sparked by uncertainty linked to the EU referendum.

New chief executive Steve Rowe, promoted to the position after predecessor Marc Bolland quit, blamed the drop on a longer term strategy to revive the division.

Rowe's recovery plan includes cutting prices and reducing promotions.

"As a result, we ran fewer price promotions while continuing to lower prices to deliver real value to our customers, and moved the summer sale to July," he said.

"We knew our actions would reduce Total sales but we are seeing some encouraging early signs."

Even like-for-like sales in the group's better-performing food business dropped 0.9%.

Rowe said: "Our food business continues to strongly outperform a deflationary market, with like-for-like sales slightly down when adjusted for Easter timing."

He added that consumer confidence worsened in the run-up to the vote on June 23.

"While it is too early to quantify the implications of 'Brexit', we are confident that our strategic priorities and the actions we are taking remain the right ones," Rowe said.

Total group sales rose 1.3% in the 13 weeks to 2nd July.





Quick facts: Marks and Spencer Group PLC

Price: 110.75 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £2.16 billion

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