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Marks & Spencer's clothing sales remain weak, website still a problem

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Marks & Spencer's clothing sales remain weak, website still a problem
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Marks & Spencer, which is the UK’s biggest clothing retailer, has reported its 12th straight quarterly fall in its general merchandise division, which includes clothing, footwear and homeware.

Sales at stores open for more than one year fell 1.5 percent in the quarter up to the end of June.

M&S blamed a problematic transition to a new website, which is intended to transform the business into an international retailer.

“We have seen a continued improvement in clothing, although, as anticipated, the settling in of the new M&S.com site has had an impact on sales,” Chief Executive Marc Bolland said.

Sales via the site actually fell 8.1 percent in that quarter.

Bolland has spent 2.3 billion pounds (2.9 billion euros) over the past three years in a push to address decades of underinvestment. Products and stores were redesigned and logistics overhauled to serve the new website.

However, the clothing team he set up in 2012 has failed to deliver a sustained increase in sales and, for the first time, M&S earned less in the year to the end of March than its faster-growing rival Next.

M&S’s food business, which accounts for more than half of the group’s sales but contributes less profit, delivered a 19th consecutive quarter of growth.

with Reuters

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