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Where did it all go wrong for M&S?

Marks and Spencer are facing a crisis on the high street (REX)

The boss of high street giant Marks & Spencer has claimed that the store is in need of ‘urgent’ change after a full year-long profits collapse.

But what exactly has gone wrong for the store, and are we at risk of losing one of the high street’s most iconic brands?

Here’s what we know.

What do the latest figures reveal?

M&S has officially reported a 62.1% fall in pre-tax profit to £66.8 million in the year to March 31.

The results come as the storewas dragged down by £321.1 million in costs linked to store closures.

Yesterday, M&S said it will shut more than 100 outlets by 2022 as part of a five-year transformation programme.

What does M&S say is the cause of its problems?

Chief executive Steve Rowe says there is an urgent ‘need for change’ and a plan to ‘restore the basics’ is under way.

Rowe has spoken of ‘transforming our culture’ to make the store a faster, lower cost and more commercial business.

Food shoppers are increasingly turning to rivals, while M&S’ clothing arm has suffered a sales drop of 1.9 percent – directly linked to rivals such as Primark and Next.

M&S will close 100 stores by 2022. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

What’s the specific problem with M&S clothing?

In recent years, M&S has failed in an attempt to attract younger consumers, despite glamorous advertising campaigns and well-received collections from models Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Alexa Chung.

Instead, they have been lured by competitors like Primark and H&M who offer cheaper items – with both stores upping their quality.


What about M&S food?

Until recently M&S’s food offer kept hopes for growth at the retailer alive, but it has been forced to scale back its programme for opening more food outlets.

Margins have also been squeezed by a weaker pound pushing up the cost of stocking the shelves.

What do retail analysts say?

Retail analysts claim that all traditional retailers have faced the pressure of rising costs, cautious shoppers and the relentless growth of online competition.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said M&S was ‘simply struggling to make progress in a world where a compelling mobile app is every bit as important as a presence on the high street, and considerably less expensive’.

Aren’t most high street retailers struggling at the moment?

Yes. M&S is far from the only supermarket to report a financial struggle, as the upheaval of Brexit leads to cost pressures and cautious spending on the part of shoppers.

The beginning of the year saw the first January drop in consumer spending since 2013 and a sharp 4% fall in spending on the high street, according to Visa, as Britons continued to cut back on spending.

Richard Hyman, who has analysed the retail sector for more than 30 years and predicted last year that 2018 would be ‘the year of retail distress’, has said: ‘There are too many mouths to feed and the consumer economy is in a very weak condition and has been for a very long time, and there is no evidence of that changing.’