M&S sales hit by revamped website

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MARKS & Spencer heaped more frustration on shareholders by admitting the flawed launch of its new website had dealt another blow to sales.

Teething problems with the site, including issues with customer registration and navigation, meant online sales were down 8.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to June 28. Its clothing and homeware division suffered from the disruption as it recorded its 12th quarter in a row of falling underlying sales - down 1.5 per cent on a year ago.

As he prepared to face shareholders at the company’s annual meeting at Wembley, chief executive Marc Bolland offered some encouragement in that womenswear sales were up “slightly” for the second quarter in a row.

He pointed to an 11 per cent rise in sales of its Limited Edition summer range as a sign that last year’s hiring of new fashion executives and numerous celebrity-driven marketing pushes were starting to pay off.

The former Morrisons boss added that the firm was simplifying parts of its website, which currently has 3.2 million users, and expects the online arm to be growing again by the retailer’s peak trading period which begins in November.

The firm plans to register six million users by the end of the year, which was the number the firm’s old website carried.

Mr Bolland said: “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.”

Around 16 per cent of its general merchandise sales came through its website.

In M&S food halls, the department outperformed a market beset by supermarket price wars as it grew like-for-like sales by 1.7 per cent.