• Registrations for Sparks loyalty scheme hit 1.8 million in two weeks
  • Numbers beat expectations
  • Strong growth has continued despite website security scare


M&S has so far signed up 1.8 million shoppers to its Sparks membership scheme and a website data scare has not hit applications to join.

Marks & Spencer launched Sparks, designed to strengthen bonds with customers through engagement, personalisation and rewards, just over a fortnight ago and chief executive Marc Bolland said he was delighted with its popularity so far.

At the end of last week M&S’s website was hit by a technical glitch when various customer details became visible to others, including some registering for the Sparks scheme.

However, Bolland said: “Sparks has been extremely successful. 1.8 million is a number ahead of our expectations.”

Since the website problem, he said that Sparks has continued to grow “very strongly”.

Bolland revealed the Sparks details as M&S posted interim results showing a rise in profits but a continued sales fall at the general merchandise division, including clothing.

Underlying pre-tax profit increased to £284m in the first half, when sales rose 1.4% to £5bn.

General merchandise like-for-likes fell 1.2% in the period, while food growth was 0.2%.

While online sales surged 34.2%, Bolland revealed that store like-for-likes were down about 6%.

He maintained the disparity was not surprising.

In the comparable period last year, he said online performance was “artificially depressed” as M&S addressed problems including distribution and shops took up the slack.

He said relative performances online and in store were reflective of changing shopping habits. “It’s not an M&S phenomenon it’s an industry phenomenon,” Bolland said.