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M&S tumbles to £201m loss after pandemic batters clothing and home sales

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Watch: M&S's profit slumps as clothing sales tumble

Marks & Spencer has swung to a hefty loss for the past year following pandemic store closures as bosses said the business has moved to the “next phase” of its transformation plan.

The historic retailer tumbled to a £201.2 million pre-tax loss for the year to March 27 after its clothing and home business was particularly hammered by pandemic restrictions.

It follows a £67.2 million statutory profit in the previous year.

The group told shareholders that total revenues dropped after this slump offset an improvement in its food operations.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe (M&S/PA)
M&S chief executive Steve Rowe (M&S/PA)

It reported that food like-for-like revenues increased by 1.3% over the past year, but the company saw its clothing and home business report a 31.5% slump despite 53.9% online growth.

Clothing and home operations saw a £129.4 million operating loss, although M&S said the performance improved in the second half of the year.

These sales have also returned to growth since the reopening of all stores on April 12, M&S said.

Meanwhile, the company said it was buoyed by its food business, which saw 6.9% growth excluding its hospitality and franchise arms.

It also hailed a strong integration with Ocado after the two companies launched their online grocery joint venture last September.

The retailer said its balance sheet is also “stronger than expected” following the impact of the pandemic.

Steve Rowe, chief executive at Marks & Spencer, said: “In a year like no other we have delivered a resilient trading performance, thanks in no small part to the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues.

“In addition, by going further and faster in our transformation through the Never the Same Again programme, we moved beyond fixing the basics to forge a reshaped M&S.

“With the right team in place to accelerate change in the trading businesses and build a trajectory for future growth, we now have a clear line of sight on the path to make M&S special again.

“The transformation has moved to the next phase.”

Watch: Why can't governments just print more money?

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