UK Markets open in 49 mins

M&S sales and profits fall as store closure plan adjusted

(c) Sky News 2019: <a href=""> M&S sales and profits fall as store closure plan adjusted</a>

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has made a series of adjustments to its store closure programme as annual results show sales and profits falling.

Figures for the year to 30 March showed underlying pre-tax profits - a measure of profitability from its day-to-day trading - falling 10% to to £523.2m.

It reported like-for-like sales at its food halls declining by 2.3% over the 12 months - by 1.5% when the timing of Easter was factored in.

Clothing and home sales were 1.6% lower - with its troubled womenswear offering declining by 1.6% amid stock troubles.

Total revenue was 3.6% lower - hit by the impact of store closures as the chain looks to shut more than 100 sites struggling to make ends meet.

M&S updated investors on its transformation programme which aims to see M&S become a 'digital first' retailer but maintaining a strong store presence.

The company said it now planned to close 120 full-line stores in total by 2023 - a slight drag on the earlier time frame of 2022.

It added that 25 smaller food sites would go in favour of 75 larger food halls and said that, once completed, store numbers across the UK would be broadly flat as it exits old, uninvestable sites - many of them occupied since the 1940s.

M&S faced a backlash from investors in February when it announced a £750m deal with Ocado to secure home deliveries of its food for the first time.

It said on Wednesday that the sale of new shares to fund that hoped to raise £601.3m - with each rights issue share being sold at a 32% discount.

It is expected to get underway on Friday.

The company had previously warned of a cut to the dividend - falling almost 26% to 13.9p a share.

M&S shares fell by more than 4% in early deals.

Analysts have warned the company remains in danger of losing its FTSE 100 status for the first time as its market value teeters around £4.4bn - placing the company under the threat of relegation at the next reshuffle due on 5 June.

Commenting on the company's performance, chief executive Steve Rowe said: "Whilst there are green shoots, we have not been consistent in our delivery in a number of areas of the business.

"M&S is changing faster than at any time in my career - substantial changes across the business to our processes, ranges and operations - and this has constrained this year's performance, particularly in clothing and home.

"However, we remain on track with our transformation and are now well on the road to making M&S special again."

More follows...