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Ellen Forster

M&S reports ‘difficult’ festive period following online delivery faults

Marks and Spencer has reported a drop in clothing, gifts and homewear over Christmas after suffering technical issues with its online delivery service.

The retailer also claimed unseasonably warm weather resulting in weak clothing performance as like-for-like sales were down 5.8% in its general merchandise division during the 13 weeks to 27 December.

M&S said disruption at its Castle Donington online distribution centre in Leicestershire affectedits performance in December.

Customers complained that they were unable to make in-store click-and-collect orders for the next day, while standard deliveries to home addresses were taking up to 10 days.

The food division delivered record sales growth of 17% over Christmas week but rose only 0.1% in the quarter.

The company said: “We deliberately held back the level of discounting, especially in December. “While this had an adverse impact on sales we delivered a good performance on gross margin.”

Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “M&S had a very good Christmas in food.

“We delivered record Christmas sales, strongly outperforming the market.

“We had a difficult quarter in general merchandise, dominated by unseasonal conditions and an unsatisfactory performance in our e-commerce distribution centre.

“We maintained our focus on general merchandise gross margin, with guidance unchanged.”

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