M&S makes ‘good progress’ with IT refresh programme

Marks & Spencer said that it is making ‘good progress’ with its IT programme, which supports its plan to transform itself into a global, multi-channel retailer.

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Marks & Spencer said that it is making ‘good progress’ with its IT programme, which supports its plan to transform itself into a global, multi-channel retailer.

The half-yearly results, out today, made no mention of the IT supply chain problems that were reported at its major new online distribution centre at Castle Donington in Leicestershire earlier this year.

“We are mid-way through the third year of our plan to transform M&S into an international, multi-channel retailer,” the company said in its statement for the half year to 28 September 2013.

“We continue to make good progress against our plan to restructure our supply chain, implement new information systems and improve operational execution.”

M&S said that the building of its new web platform “continues as planned” and that it is on track to launch in spring 2014. It reported £3.1 million of 'double running' costs in relation to the new and existing web platforms.

“We have also commenced implementation of the first of our new GM [general merchandise] commercial systems, focusing on allocation and replenishment of stock,” it said.

These initiatives support M&S’s multi-channel strategy, with multi-channel sales growing 28.5 percent, outperforming the British Retail Consortium’s market growth figure of 16 percent.

The retailer invested £266.8 million in the period on the new multi-channel platform, new systems, supply chain and its UK and international stores. This is down from £389.6 million last year.

In a further breakdown, it spent £45.3 million on multi-channel in the 26 weeks ended 28 September, up from £33 million in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, supply chain and technology expenditure fell from £86.1 million last year to £73.1 million.

As well as seeing a growth in traffic to its website, M&S said that mobile sales grew by more than 70 percent, with sales from tablets growing 140 percent and now representing around a quarter of the company’s sales, up from 11 percent a year ago.

It is also taking of advantage of social media in its marketing division, posting its new womenswear advertising campaign on Facebook first, for the first time. This post attracted about 10 million views, M&S said.

The retailer’s underlying pre-tax profit for the period had fallen from last year, from £287.3 million down to £261.6 million.