However executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose also said M&S remained committed to opening more shops in China and doubling the proportion of group revenues derived from international sales.
Rose spoke to the Financial Times at the retailer’s flagship Shanghai store, where he described as a “screw-up” supply chain problems which left the store’s food hall sparsely stocked in the first few key months of trading.
There were also shortages of the smaller-sized clothes demanded by Chinese consumers.
Rose conceded the retailer had misunderstood the local market, and mistakenly modelled Shanghai on M&S's Hong Kong stores.
He travelled to Shanghai to put some “urgency and drive” into efforts to solve the store’s problems. He said M&S still planned to increase international business from 10 per cent to between 15 and 20 per cent of revenues.
He said that M&S “will not rush to conquer China until we conquer the basics of shopkeeping” in China.
Rose expects the Shanghai store to turn a profit within three years.