M&S to open more food stores while cutting its clothing outlets

Marks & Spencer has announced a major down-scaling of its clothing and home shops and a major upturn in its commitment to food stores.

While grabbing the general news headlines today for its plan to have about 60 fewer clothing and home stores in five years’ time, the retailer’s plans for its food outlets continue to move in the opposite direction.

“We have delivered another good performance from our food business as we continue to outperform the market,” said M&S CEO Steve Rowe. “Our market share increased by 20 basis points in the most recent 12 week period ending 9 October 2016, while our total sales increased by 4%, with like-for-like sales down 0.9% in a competitive market. We also further improved availability.”

Although the company’s overall performance for the six months to October 1, shows an 18.6% fall in underlying profits before tax to £231.3m, the CEO’s view of the food sector remains positive.

“Every year around 25% of our food catalogue is comprised of new or improved products,” he said, adding that the performance of the company’s new Simply Food stores is running “ahead of expectations” with stores opened in the past year exceeding sales forecasts by 17%.

As such, while clothing and home shops are set to reduce in number, or be converted to food-only outlets, the retailer is maintaining nearly 600 Simply Food shops across the UK, to set alongside it 300 full-range sites, which sell food as part of a combined offer with clothing and homeware items.

“In summary,” said Mr Rowe (pictured above) at the end of five years, we will operate from fewer, better Clothing & Home stores, and from substantially more Simply Food stores.  In total, therefore, M&S expects to have more stores, in more convenient locations for our customers.”

M&S is a 100% supplier of British pork, bacon and sausages, according to the latest Porkwatch figures, and a 96% supplier of British ham.

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