Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland has denied there are problems with its new online platform and pledged web growth in time for peak trading.
The retailer flagged at the time of its full-year results in May that it would take four-to-six months for Marksandspencer.com to “settle in” and there would be an impact on first-quarter trading. But M&S has faced criticism that the launch was “botched”.
Bolland rejected that suggestion. He said: “You call it issues. It’s not an issue.
“The platform, you don’t build for a quarterly result. It’s been a resilient build-up.”
He said shoppers have appreciated the new editorial approach, which is increasingly being reflected in sales as tweaks are made.
“Recently what we’ve seen is that Editor’s Picks [selected looks featured on the site] are up 60%,” said Bolland.
“It’s a journey, not something customers recognise in a morning.”
M&S finance chief Alan Stewart likened the online changes to those that happen in stores every day. He argued: “It’s a bit like going into a supermarket for a pint of milk and they’ve moved it, but customers will get used to it.”
Bolland said the retailer’s expectation was for 6 million online customers over the course of the year and that there had already been 3.2 million. He anticipated online to return to growth “ahead of peak”.
Marks & Spencer UK like-for-likes edged up 0.3% in the first quarter. Within that like-for-likes in general merchandise dropped 1.5% while rising 1.7% in food.
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black was disappointed by M&S’s update. He said: “The dotcom fiasco, and that is what it looks like, noting as we do many more complaints over praises for the current proposition, leaves a bitter taste for investors.”