Of Marks & Spencer’s (M&S) 34 million customers, 19 million have not shopped regularly on the retailer’s website. Now the company is working to lure those shoppers from brick to click with the new website it launched in February.
Although M&S is the UK’s largest clothing retailer, the 130-year-old company has lagged behind its competition in several areas, including investment in and promoting of online marketing and its sales and profits have declined, in part, as a result.
To reverse its down-trending profitability, an ambitious £2.3 billion plan was implemented three years ago and is now nearing its conclusion. A large percentage of the M&S investment was used to create a massive new e-commerce distribution, which opened in 2013, in anticipation of increased online sales.
Laura Wade-Gery, e-commerce director for M&S, said in a statement to the media, “Our e-commerce business is profitable and we’re planning to make it more profitable.”
M&S posted an increase in online sales of 12.5% in its fiscal Q4 ended March 29, and in April reported its best clothing sales in three years, up 1.3% in total and 0.6% on a like-for-like basis.
Despite increases in online and clothing sales, not all elements of the plan have yet produced the desired overall results. M&S is expected to post its third consecutive year of declining annual profits when the 2013-2014 numbers are released May 20.
But M&S CEO Marc Bolland seems optimistic about the company’s future and plans to market its products through web and mobile devices, broaden its international retailing operations, and compete more successfully against faster-growing players in the retailing sector.
Profits before tax and one-off items for M&S have been forecast between £615 million and £630 million, a 6 percent decline from 2012-2013.