In a difficult trading environment M&S has delivered excellent results, with notable progress in Food and Clothing and Home, and both businesses outperforming the market. With momentum having continued into October, the turnaround plan to revitalise the brand and reignite growth is well on track and the group can look forward to the Christmas period with confidence.
The Clothing and Home division has been a problem child for M&S for many years. The new strategy, launched last year, aims to improve brand perception and designs, reduce discounting and improve the online offering, while taking a knife to costs and instilling a more entrepreneurial culture. Early signs are this plan is resonating with consumers.
However, pressure on the UK consumer could intensify heading into 2024 as the impact of higher interest rates really starts to bite. This, combined with tougher comparatives means M&S is striking a tone of caution looking ahead to the second half. This may disappoint investors.
Overall, M&S is delivering strongly on the things it can control and seems to be in a much better place now than it was a few years ago. However, it isn’t fully in charge of its own destiny and is heavily dependent on consumer confidence, where uncertainties still abound.”