Coronavirus: M&S expects profits at lower end of target range

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer has said profits for the end of the 2019/20 financial year could be at or even below the bottom end of expectations as a result of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

In a trading update, M&S said it was continuing to monitor the effects of the coronavirus on trading and noted it had seen “substantial sales declines in clothing and home”, which would likely drive its final profit before tax number to or below the bottom end of its previous £440m-£460m range.

The retailer also warned of margins in clothing and home being “severely impacted” by unsold stock surpluses and probable promotional sales activity in the summer, and said it would therefore be “taking all possible steps to defer supply”.

Marks & Spencer said it had only benefited on a “small scale” from instances of food stockpiling seen by other grocers so far due to its “heavy bias to chilled and fresh”. However, it said the “significant shift to eating in home” should give a lift in sales.

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