This isn’t just any old year; this is an M&S year…

May 24, 2011

Retail News

Marks & Spencer has performed better than expected over the last year and are consequently looking to expand in the Asian markets.

In the year to April 2, M&S recorded pre-tax profits of £780.6m compared to the £640.6m they made in the previous 52 weeks. Total revenues also rose from £9.5bn to £9.7bn.

Analysts were proved wrong as underlying profits, which include items such as property disposals and impairment charges, rose by 12.9pc to £714.3m, beating their predictions of £710m.

Chief executive, Marc Bolland, who joined M&S from supermarket chain, WM Morrison, in May 2010 had this to say:

“Marks & Spencer had a good year, with sales and profits ahead of last year. We traded well in a challenging environment, growing our market share in both clothing and food. We did this by offering customers great quality and value, and more choice through innovation.”

Bolland’s plan of “evolution not revolution” is to be put into motion, they’re increasing their share of the clothing market to 11.7pc, while its food sector increased to 3.9pc.

And it comes as no surprise that with sold growth in key areas, Marks & Spencer are looking at emerging markets, and like other retailers, India and China are topping their list.

M&S plan to open 10 new stores in India over the coming year, adding to the 19 that are already there. China will also see expansion; with M&S planning to open a further six stores to go along with the three they opened in 2010/11.

Bolland explained that: “In November we set our plan to grow M&S into a truly international, multi-channel retailer. We have made good early progress and are focused on both trading the business in the short term and on delivering against our long-term plans.”

So like other retailers, the focus is on expansion into the Asian market, it’s almost a weekly occurrence now that a retailer will announce such intentions – is this good for retail and the UK market? As long as retailers don’t neglect homegrown stores, then of course it is.

In other news…

The Retail Inspector - Book Shop

E-books are killing the bookstores.

We’re all aware of the trouble Waterstone’s are in as a result of the growing interest in e-books, signs that the digital revolution is taking over.

With 1 in 10 people now owning a tablet device such as an iPad or a Kindle and not to mention the numerous iPhone owners who can download a book in seconds, the emergence of e-books is to be expected.

Amazon also announced that sales of e-books outstrip hardbacks and paperbacks by 2-1. This excludes the number of free Kindle books made available, which would have certainly made the number even higher.

As more tablet devices become available, more people will prefer the quick and simple e-book as opposed to carrying round a hardback. It doesn’t bode to well for Waterstone’s, unless they too release some form of tablet device, which I expect would sell like hot cakes, being that they are already an established bookseller.