marks and spencer

Sales at Marks & Spencer (LON: MKS) have continued to fall this year.

Like-for-like sales fell 2.2% for the six months to the end of September. Clothes sales were down 1.1%, whilst food fell a further 2.9%.

“We are expecting little improvement in sales trajectory,” said the retailer, adding that trading conditions for the rest of the year will remain “challenging”.

Marks & Spencer has said it will not rule out further closures. So far, the group plans to close 100 stores by 2022, affecting a total of 872 employees.

“M&S is repositioning itself for the new retail world,” said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown. “Having a huge store estate is no longer the powerful retail force that it once was.”

The retailer plans to make one-third of the business online.

Commenting on the shift to online shopping, Paul Martin, head of UK retail at KPMG, says: “With the overall market not growing, it is all about market share, and 20% of that market is held by online players. If you don’t have the right online offering, again, you will struggle.”

The chief executive, Steve Rowe, said the retailer was “re-shaping” its business.

“What we are doing is making sure we protect the magic of M&S,” he added.