The spotlight falls on Marks & Spencer as the retailer generates acres of coverage after reporting its first half results. M&S reported pre-tax profits of £118m in the six months to 30 September – four times its result for the same period last year – as it announced the departure of chief financial officer Helen Weir and scaled back its ambitions to open new food stores, The Financial Times writes. The Telegraph adds that shares in the group shares see-sawed after the bellwether retailer posted a rise in sales and profits but surprised investors with a warning about the growth of its previously stellar food business. The Guardian focuses on M&S ramping up its cost-cutting drive as inflation hits profit margins and online competition intensifies. The group will speed up plans to close underperforming clothing departments and slam the brakes on expansion of its Simply Food chain.
M&S claimed that it was fixing the “immediate and burning issues” at the group as it reported another fall in half-year profits, The Times writes. The paper reported a different profit figure to other papers that showed a big drop in the bottom line. The retailer added it was facing up to the “unvarnished truth” about its “drifting” underperformance over the past decade as it reported yet another fall in half-year profits, The Times says. Despite the disappointing pre-tax performance like-for-like sales within the clothing and home sectors improved, falling by a less than expected 0.1% in its second quarter, after a 1.2% drop in the previous three months, The Mail adds. Food sales were also 0.1% down in the second quarter.
Sacred cows and skeletons rattle ‘under-fulfilling’ Marks & Spencer, The Telegraph’s retail editor writes in an opinion column. An analysis in The Financial Times says M&S scales back ambitions in turnround effort. Lombard in The Financial Times asks if the rethinks bears scrutiny as he riffs on the new advert featuring Paddington. Nils Pratley in The Guardian adds that M&S tries to reinvent itself – but things are always happening to it. “Like Paddington Bear, Marks & Spencer’s good intentions are often frustrated by events – in its case, tough trading conditions,” he writes. The Times sums up the results with “M&S chief Steve Rowe puts out fires but chairman Archie Norman will keep the heat on”. Alistair Osborne in The Times adds that there is still trouble in store at Marks as endless transformations have not righted the business.
Former Tesco chairman Richard Broadbent has told a court that the first time he became aware of a hole in the retailer’s accounts was when he received a phone call in Rome from the new chief executive, The Times reports. “Giving evidence in the trial of three former executives, Sir Richard Broadbent told Southwark crown court that Dave Lewis had called him in September 2014 and had said something like, ‘Richard we’ve got a problem’,” the paper writes.
Outspoken JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has lambasted senior company directors and major trade bodies, including Sainsbury’s and Costa Coffee owner Whitbread, for “factually incorrect and highly misleading” statements about the potential impact of Brexit on the UK economy (The Telegraph).
The boss of Associated British Foods says Brexit provides British food producers with “significant opportunities” to sell their goods abroad, according to The Mail. George Weston, CEO of the Kingsmill, Jordans and Twinings owner, hailed trade opportunities after Brexit, the paper adds.
Mary Portas’ “Save the High Street” campaign has failed, figures show from the Local Data Company, as the towns under her watch have lost nearly a thousand shops in five years, The Telegraph reports.
The Telegraph takes a look at all the Christmas adverts launched this week in the retail sector, including Agos, M&S and Aldi.