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M&S quits Russia as CEO Steve Rowe bows out after six years

·1-min read
  (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

MARKS & Spencer is quitting Russia after 17 years in reaction to the Ukraine war – a move that will cost it £31 million.

It had previously said that complex franchise deals might prevent it leaving altogether. That follows a similar move by McDonald’s, which had been in Russia for 30 years.

Departing chief executive Steve Rowe was able to report a £120 million leap in profit for the year to April of £523 million. Sales rose 7% to £10.8 billion. It has not returned to dividend payments yet.

Rowe insisted M&S has a strong future. “M&S has always been relevant to the UK population. It has shown over 140 years that it can cope and it has been my privilege to hold the shop.”

He added: “We do need to modernise the business. We will protect the magic and modernise the rest.”

It will shut 32 more stores as it moves to edge of town sites with better car parking.

“We recognise that in an omni-channel world, ease of shopping and fast access is critical to competitiveness, and in many cases we believe the town centre locations have lost impetus as a result of failed local authority or government policy. As a result, a high proportion, but not all, of our relocations are to the edge of town,” M&S said.

Laura Hoy at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “Marks & Spencer’s done a good job navigating a large transition amid the backdrop of the pandemic. Results show the group’s efforts to trim costs and focus on digitization are paying off even as shopping habits return to normal. This is most evident in clothing and home, where digital sales are driving growth and app usage has been improving progressively.”

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