MARKS & Spencer is this week tipped to unveil grim trading figures for its last quarter – likely to be the worst for more than three years – as its board prepares to face tough questions from investors over pay.
The bellwether retailer is due to provide its Q1 update and stage its annual general meeting on Tuesday with analysts expecting the figures to be disappointing despite investment in celebrity-laden advertising campaigns featuring the likes of Gary Barlow, Myleene Klass and Dannii Minogue.
The retail giant, which operates more than 700 stores in the UK, has borne the brunt of falling high street spending in recent months as it competes with frenzied levels of promotions.
But the wettest April and June on record are expected to have added to its woes, with women’s fashion likely to have been the worst hit. UK like-for-like sales excluding VAT are expected to have fallen 5 per cent, which would mark its worst performance since the quarter to March 2009. Non-food sales are tipped to be down 6.7 per cent – the worst since the quarter to the end of December 2008.
Rod Whitehead, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, said: “We worry that the weakness in the top line is not just the weather. Some commentators are suggesting that M&S’s womenswear range has been off-trend this summer.”
Food sales are expected to have edged up on the back of the Jubilee celebrations.
Bosses are likely to face a grilling after shareholder body Pirc labelled bonus plans “excessive”.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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