(20 May) Marks & Spencer has said that trading in its Republic of Ireland division "continued to be difficult" last year, as the retailer issued its full-year results for the year to 29 March, earlier today.
While M&S does not reveal sales totals for its Irish business, the Irish portfolio is part of the group's 'International' division, which saw sales rise 6.2%, driven mainly by 'strong growth in India and our flagship stores in China'.
Sales in Europe were up 3.9% on a constant currency basis, with the group opening its largest continental store in The Hague in the past year, as well as growing its presence in France, and taking 'full control' of its Czech and Eastern European business.
'Following the actions we took to address the performance in the Czech Republic, Eastern Europe and Greece, we are pleased that sales improved during the year,' the company said. 'Following a strategic review of our business in the Republic of Ireland, we took the difficult decision to close four stores. We remain committed to the business in Ireland and will invest in our remaining stores'.
Group sales at the retailer were up 2.7% to £10.3 billion, while like-for-like sales at its key UK division were broadly flat (+0.2%), with Food growing by +1.7% and General Merchandise down -1.4%.
“M&S grew sales by 2.7% last year. We are focused on improving our performance in General Merchandise and were pleased to see early signs of improvement," said Marc Bolland, M&S chief executive. "Our Food business had a very strong year, consistently outperforming the market.
"Three years ago, we recognised the scale of investment required to transform our business, investing to strengthen our foundations and improve our customer offer. We are making solid progress on this journey and are now focused on delivery."
© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones