Marks and Spencer will open fewer Simply Food stores than expected after like-for-like sales fell by 0.1% in the first six months of its financial year.Under a five-year plan announced a year ago, chief executive Steve Rowe had said the retailer would open 200 Simply Food shops.However, M&S said it would “reposition our food business including slowing our Simply Food store opening plan”.Total sales rose by 2.6% to £5.1bn, but pre-tax profit fell by 5.3% to £219.1m.Like-for-like sales in clothing and homeware fell 0.7%, while total same-store sales fell by 0.3%.Mr Rowe said: “We have made good progress in remedying the immediate and burning issues at M&S I outlined last year. “In clothing and home, early results are encouraging, and in International we now have a profitable and robust business.”We recognise now that we face stronger headwinds in food, which will be addressed in the year ahead.”M&S also announced that its chief financial officer, Helen Weir, will step down. She will stay on until a successor is found. Commenting on the M&S’s performance in food, Patrick O’Brien, UK research director at GlobalData Retail, said: “When you compare that to the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, whose recent like-for-likes have been around 2% plus, that’s a pretty bad performance.”He said that food had been “a banker” for M&S in the past. “For it to be losing ground at a time of inflation is really quite damaging,” he said.
Source: BBC News