Marks and Spencer has swung to a pre-tax loss of £87.6m in the half-year ended 26 September, down from the £158.8m profit reported the year before, marking its first ever loss in 94 years of trading as a public company.
The group saw its profit plummet by 77% to £61.8m, against last year’s results of £269.9m, whilst group revenue fell by 15% to £4.09bn in the same period, down from £4.8bn last year.
Nonetheless, the retailer said it “performed better than expected” during the first half of trading, with revenue down 15.8%, outperforming the Covid-19 planning scenario by 22.8%.
The business added that its previous investment in 50% of Ocado Retail meant M&S was “well positioned” to take advantage of the long-term opportunity created by the “step change” in online grocery shopping in the UK.
Ocado Retail reportedly delivered 47.9% year on year revenue growth for the 26 weeks to 30 August 2020.
Steve Rowe, CEO of Marks and Spencers said: “In a year when it has become impossible to forecast with any degree of accuracy, our performance has been much more robust than at first seemed possible.
“This reflects the resilience of our business and the incredible efforts of my M&S colleagues who have been quite simply outstanding. But out of adversity comes opportunity and, through our Never the Same Again programme, we have brought forward three years change in one to become a leaner, faster and more digital business.”
He added: “From launching M&S Food online with Ocado to establishing an integrated online business division ‘MS2’ to step-change growth, we are taking the right actions to come through the crisis stronger and set up to win in the new world.”
M&S is expected to report its third quarter trading update on 8 January 2021.