Posted on November 6, 2019 by staff

M&S commits to ‘digital first’ pivot after profit fall


Marks & Spencer has said it is committed to becoming a ‘digital first’ business in its latest results.

The firm posted a revenue fall of 2.1 per cent to £4.86 billion in the six months to the end of September.

It posted a 17.1 per cent loss in profit before tax, which it put down to a weak first half in clothing and home sales.

The firm, which also said it has closed 17 full-line stores during the period, revealed its plan to become digital first, as it trials an 11pm cut-off for free next day to store delivery, enhanced search and new personalisation tools on its website.

Steve Rowe, CEO, said the company was focused on future growth.

“Our transformation plan is now running at a pace and scale not seen before at Marks & Spencer,” he said.

“For the first time we are beginning to see the potential from the far-reaching changes we are making.”

In August the company acquired 50 per cent of online supermarket Ocado Retail in a £750m deal which is designed to exchange the brand’s reach with Ocado’s tech-first innovation and infrastructure.

The joint venture, called Ocado, is expected to launch in September 2020.

M&S reports its share of Ocado Retail Limited losses from the acquisition to September 2019 were £500,000, a result it said was in line with expectations after a “seasonal low point in the trading calendar”.

Melanie Smith, former strategy director of M&S was appointed CEO of Ocado Retail, supported by Lawrence Hene, as deputy CEO for a transitional period before he moves back into a senior role within the Ocado group.

“Our deal to create a joint venture with Ocado is complete and plans to transition to the M&S range are on track,” said Rowe.

“In addition, our new digital group is building capabilities in areas such as data science, while also connecting disparate data sources and making them available in the cloud.”

It also said it is planning to relaunch its members club ‘Sparks’ in 2020, and will create a base for greater personalisation and engagement as part of the membership.