Marks & Spencer online sales drive results

Marks & Spencer’s online sales were a bright spot in its fourth quarter results, chairman Sir Stuart Rose announced today.

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Marks & Spencer’s online sales were a bright spot in its fourth quarter results, chairman Sir Stuart Rose announced today.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) group sales were up by 1.9 per cent while its growing online business reported an increase in sales of 20 per cent.

M&S has been on a rapid programme of IT investment. In January 2009 it signed a deal with IBM to implement SAP retail applications that promised the retailer improved stock visibility and dat management.

Last year it relaunched the M&S online store and in 2007 it invested in a major radio frequency ID (RFID) programme. These are part of a three year £405 million technology overhaul plan. M&S is introducing new point-of-sale systems and 2000 new tills as part of this plan.

Earlier this year the retailer extended its contract with Fujitsu Services to prove IT support to the 600 M&S stores. Damone Quigley head of infrastructure for M&S said they expect Fujitsu to identify cost savings. Computacenter has also recently joined the M&S IT team, providing operational support to the head offices.

Chairman of the company Sir Stuart Rose said, “We have made progress against the key priorities set out at the interim results in November.” He said the company has been managing its costs and cash flow. Speaking of the current economic climate he said, “While the outlook remains uncertain, we are confident that we are doing the right things for our customers and for our business.”

M&S began the year by announcing 1,200 job cuts and its intention to close 27 stores. Like for like sales at M&S were down 3.7 per cent and general merchandise was down 4.2 per cent. Like for like is considered the most important measure as this does not include new store openings or store closures.

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