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We must face facts, says M&S, as profits drop 62%

23 May 2018, 06:54 | Marta Robbins

M&S store closure costs result in 62% annual profit plunge

M&S profits plunge 62pc amid sweeping store closure plans

"These changes come with short-term costs which are reflected in today's results".

In November, two months after retail veteran Archie Norman joined as chairman, M&S detailed its latest attempt at a turnaround after over a decade of false dawns - a five-year programme of store closures and relocations to cut excess selling space in its clothing business and moves to make its misfiring food business more competitive.

M&S shares have fallen 26 percent over the past year and it risks being booted out of the FTSE 100 index as it is now worth less than both online grocer Ocado and online fashion website ASOS, starkly illustrating how shopping habits have changed in only a decade.

Pre-tax profit before exceptional items dropped to £580.9m from £613.8m in the year to the end of March.

Marks & Spencer also says that "the acceleration of M&S's United Kingdom store estate programme is part of M&S's wider five-year transformation plan".

M&S earmarked 14 stores for closure on Tuesday, including in London's Bayswater and Holloway Road, with a total of 872 employees affected.

M&S profits plunge 62pc amid sweeping store closure plans
M&S says it must accelerate change or fade away

But M&S's underlying profit was better than the £573mln market forecast, sending its shares 5.7% higher to 308.5p in afternoon trading.

Excluding the restructuring charge, the stores group's adjusted pre-tax profit was down 5.4% to £580.9mln from £613.8mln previous year, weighed by a 140 basis points drop in the food gross margin as a result of a weaker pound pushing up input cost inflation.

Shares in M&S were down 3 percent at 1017 GMT.

"These, together with a challenging United Kingdom consumer market, mean that we have to modernise our business to ensure we are competitive and reignite our culture", it said.

It is taking an axe to its store estate in the face of continued migration of clothing and home online, the development of global competition, the growth of home delivery in food and the march of the discounters.

"This is vital as we start to leverage the strength of the M&S brand and values across a family of businesses to deliver sustainable, profitable growth in three to five years". "Our supply chains in both Clothing & Home and in Food require significant upgrades, so that we can be faster to market, reduce high stock levels in Clothing, and improve availability and waste in Food".

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