M&S blames website for another poor sales quarter

It’s not very often that someone in charge of something which has depressed sales and profits gets promoted to the top job but that’s what has just happened at Marks & Spencer.

112073356_Laura_330401cLaura Wade-Gery (left), who joined a year or so ago from Tesco as head of M&S’s online business, has been made UK stores boss despite problems with the new website forcing M&S into its 12th successive quarter of falling clothing and homeware sales. Online sales were down just over eight per cent.

CEO Marc Bolland claims M&S had recently seen “a gradual improvement in sales performance, despite a lower level of promotional activity. We expect to return to growth ahead of our peak trading period,” he said. Which means the next quarter, prior to Christmas.

M&S clothes are looking a bit livelier thanks to the efforts of former Jaeger boss Belinda Earl among others although the stores themselves still fail to excite despite an expensive ongoing makeover. Food sales, the bright spot for as long as most people can remember, seem to be holding up although margins must be under pressure as there are more special offers.

But Bolland needs to match his words with performance next time up as the M&S management really has run out of excuses now.

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.