steve rowe m&s marks and spencer

Source: Marks & Spencer

CEO Steve Rowe assured customers M&S was well positioned to face supply chain challenges during Christmas

Marks & Spencer has said it is not expecting stock availability disruptions during Christmas – but CEO Steve Rowe has warned of inflation-derived price hikes.

Rowe said that M&S is set up “to deliver a great Christmas for our customers” despite the ongoing supply chain challenges – reassuring shoppers there won’t be “any shortages of pigs in blankets at Marks & Spencer at all”.

However, he expected there will be more inflation across the food industry in the coming months, but noted the company was “well positioned” to mitigate the impacts of inflationary pressures on customers.

“Our inflation will be only in line with the market or less than the market as we continue to work hard to deliver better value for our customers,” he said.

He was speaking as M&S published its results for the 26-weeks to 2 October.

The group’s pre-tax profit for the period was £187.3m, compared to a £87.6m loss a year ago and pre-pandemic profits of £158.8m.

Read more: City Snapshot: M&S lifts profits forecast as turnaround picks up pace

M&S’s food sales jumped 10.4% – including growth in key categories such as frozen and grocery & household.

The retailer experienced a peak in early Christmas spending this year, but the levels have since settled down “to a much more normalised pattern”.

The bump in the food business comes as M&S ploughs ahead with its multi-year transformation strategy, placing a larger focus on food and full line stores.

The retailer currently has 20 full line stores in the UK pipeline, including six former Debenhams sites.

M&S recently announced it was closing three stores in the first half of 2022 as part of the estate renewal programme.