Marks & Spencer is among a raft of retailers updating the City this week on recent trading, and chief executive Marc Bolland will be under pressure to show his recovery plan is on track.
Clothing sales at the department store chain are predicted to have fallen by 1.5 per cent during the 13 weeks to the end of June, following last year’s 4.1 per cent decline.
However, Bolland has installed a new fashion team – including former Debenhams boss Belinda Earl – in an effort to turn the business around and he will be hoping for a strong showing for the chain’s autumn/winter range.
Pre-tax profits at M&S, which holds its annual meeting tomorrow, fell to £665 million last year, but analysts expect that figure to improve to about £675m this year, helped by a strong performance from its food division.
Associated British Foods delivers a trading update on Thursday, and while analysts have pencilled in like-for-like sales growth of 6 per cent at its Primark budget fashion chain, that would be slower than the 7 per cent growth achieved during the first half of the year.
Broker Canaccord said: “We are slightly concerned that like-for-like sales in the second half could disappoint. The summer has not started well in the UK and Europe and this is likely to have hurt sales of seasonal items.”
Thursday also sees annual results from SuperGroup, owner of the Cult and Superdry fashion brands, which is expected to report a 15 per cent surge in revenues to £360m, boosted by store openings.
Investec analyst Bethany Hocking expects the firm to reveal more details on its international expansion, infrastructure and online strategy.
She said: “We believe that SuperGroup has significant future earnings growth potential and strong cash generation.”
With British interest in the Tour de France riding high thanks to Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome, Wednesday’s update from Halfords will be closely watched for signs that trading is getting back on track.
The car parts and bicycle retailer, which has 466 stores in the UK and Ireland, suffered a fall in profits last year but Cantor analyst Kate Calvert said the recent sunnier weather may have helped bike sales in the first quarter.