Marks & Spencer’s big bloomer: womenswear stock falls short

Apr 17, 2012

Britain's biggest clothing retailer reports 0.7 per cent fall after running out of key items of women's clothing

MARKS & SPENCER, Britain's biggest clothing retailer, admitted today to making the most basic bloomer in business as it reported a drop in like-for-like sales for the quarter to March 31 of 0.7 per cent.

The 128-year-old high street company "ran out of stock on some of it's best-selling lines of womenswear", according to The Times, thus transforming what was expected to be 0.8 per cent sales growth into an embarrassing slump.

While growth in food sales held firm at one per cent, non-food sales - which the group had hoped would grow - fell by 2.8 per cent as the company struggled to restock popular lines of womenswear.

The results are a particular blow considering that March saw the rest of the retail sector continue to grow, with a healthy increase of 1.3 in like-for-like sales reported by the British Retail Consortium.

Marc Bolland, M&S's chief executive, said that despite the blip the company remained on target to deliver full-year profits in line with analysts' predictions of £694 million, The Daily Telegraph reports.

"While the short term trading outlook continues to be challenging," Bolland said, "we are focused on investing in line with our plan and are making strong progress against our goal of becoming an international, multi-channel retailer."

M&S shares closed yesterday at 370p, giving the group a valuation of £5.94 billion.

Sign up for our daily newsletter