M&S first. Sir Stuart Rose said today that M&S is riding the downturn well. It’s true that a 0.5% decline in like-for-like sales in UK is better than some analysts feared, but the company is still lagging behind rivals. Marks’ food division grew its sales by 1.7% in the last 13 weeks – that’s pedestrian compared with Waitrose’s weekly gains of around 11%.
Rose said that M&S also plans to hire 20,000 temporary workers this Christmas, and warned that next year will be difficult:
‘We are pleased to report continuing improvement in our performance. This demonstrates that the actions we are taking are working.
Whilst there is more visibility in the marketplace and consumers appear more confident, we continue to be cautious about the outlook. We expect 2010 to be a tough year and we will continue to run the business accordingly.”
ASOS, meanwhile, grew its sales by an impressive 47% in the last six months. Its web site – which mainly offers affordable versions of celebrity fashions – now has 1.2 million active customers.
The news is gloomier from Blacks, though, which said it is shutting 87 underperforming stores and looking to cut 20% of its head office staff.
In other news…..First Group has said trading is in line with expectations despite the recession, and also reported cutting 4,000 jobs.
And Man Group has estimated it will make a profit of £280m for the last six months, a sharp fall on the previous year’s £622m.