M&S turnaround has some way to go

MARKS & Spencer will reveal that its long-term recovery is still a work in progress this week when it updates the City on first-quarter trading.
An outfit from the new M and S rangeAn outfit from the new M and S range
An outfit from the new M and S range

Analysts expect the high street stalwart to report a dip in general merchandise sales, which includes clothing, of about 1 per cent, compared to a 1.5 per cent fall a year ago and 0.7 per cent rise in the previous quarter. The chain’s same-store food sales are expected to be up slightly, as its high-end items continue to outperform the market, which is locked in a supermarket price war.

M&S turned a corner in May when it posted its first annual profits increase in four years. The firm reported underlying profits up 6.1 per cent to £661.2 million, beating City hopes and easing some of the pressure its boss Marc Bolland has been under in recent years.

Brokerage Numis said “Marks & Spencer’s strategy is looking increasingly robust”, despite the downturn in clothing sales expected when the group hosts its annual meeting in London on ­Tuesday.