M&S shares rise despite first-ever loss

Marks & Spencer (LON: MKS) posted its first loss in the 94-years as a listed company on Tuesday as sales were dented by the pandemic.

The high street retailer posted a £87m pre-tax loss for the six months to September 26, which is down from the £158.8m profit it made in the same period a year ago.

Revenue at the group was down 15.8% from £4.9bn to £4.1bn.

During the lockdown, the food hall remained open, however, the clothing division was closed until mid-June, and clothing sales slumped 40% in the period.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “In a year when it has become impossible to forecast with any degree of accuracy, our performance has been much more robust than at first seemed possible.”

“But out of adversity comes opportunity and, through our Never the Same Again programme, we have brought forward three years change in one to become a leaner, faster and more digital business. From launching M&S Food online with Ocado to establishing an integrated online business division ‘MS2’ to step-change growth, we are taking the right actions to come through the crisis stronger and set up to win in the new world.”

Despite the loss, shares in the group rose 4.3% on this morning’s opening.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: “There is little doubt that a reorganisation of the company and, to some extent the brand, is long overdue. Whether the speed of this transformation is too little, too late remains to be seen, but M&S is making every effort to stem what has been a slow decline over recent years.”

Earlier this year, M&S revealed plans to axe 7,000 jobs by the end of the year.

M&S shares (LON: MKS) are currently trading +6.05% at 97,56 (0932GMT).

 

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Safiya focuses on business and political stories for UK Investor Magazine. Her interests include international development, travel and politics.