Punte & Spencer to step up store closures after £201.2m loss

Punte & Spencer is to step up store closures after diving £201.2m into the red after clothing and homeware sales slid by almost a third during the high street lockdowns.

Food sales rose by 1.3% at established stores in the year to 3 April as M&S missed out on the shift to online groceries for most of the year until it launched a delivery service with specialist Ocado in September.

The company said it planned to increase its capacity to sell groceries online by 50% as its products now made up more than a quarter of the average order on Ocado.

The group increased online sales of clothing and homewares by almost 54% but that was not enough to offset the 56% slump in sales on the high street, where most stores were unable to fully operate as part of efforts to control the spread of Covid-19.

The group’s full-year pre-tax loss of £201.2m compared with a profit of £67.2m a year before.

Steve Rowe, the chief executive, gesê: “In a year like no other we have delivered a resilient trading performance.” He said the group had fixed the basics and now had the right team in place to “accelerate change in the trading businesses and build a trajectory for future growth”. Hy het bygevoeg: “We now have a clear line of sight on the path to make M&S special again. The transformation has moved to the next phase.”

He said M&S would be accelerate its plan to close outdated stores to build a chain of 180 main sites around the country, af van 254 at present. The retailer said it would permanently move out of about 30 plekke, en 'n verdere 110 large stores would become food-only, or several stores would be combined into one. Some sites will be redeveloped into homes.

Oor 17 new or expanded full-line stores will open over the next two years, including in a number of former Debenhams sites.

M&S has already closed 59 full-line stores, 16 food stores and eight discount outlets. It has previously said it would close just over 100 winkels.

The company said it did not expect to pay a dividend in the current year as it invested in building its online business and improving stores.

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