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M&S blames website as sales fall again

Marks & Spencer has blamed website "teething problems" as the chain recorded three straight years of quarterly declines.

While food sales grew by 1.7%, the retailers homeware and clothing division registered a 1.5% fall in like-for-like sales - its 12th quarter in a row of declining sales.

M&S has blamed its website for a drop in sales. Credit: PA

Overall, the group's total revenues for the period grew 2.3%.

"We have seen a continued improvement in clothing, although as anticipated the settling in of the new M& site has had an impact on sales," chief executive Marc Bolland said.

Mr Bolland was due to face concerned shareholders at M&S's AGM at Wembley Stadium.


Ambitious £8 billion Middle Eastern bid for M&S

Marks & Spencer is reportedly being eyed up for takeover by Middle Eastern investors plotting an ambitious £8 billion bid.

M&S was once one of the world’s most profitable retailers Credit: PA Wire

Qatar Investment Authority is in talks with private equity groups and banks about approaching the high street chain, according to The Sunday Times newspaper (£).

A bid for the retailer would mark the biggest private equity takeover of a British blue chip firm since Alliance Boots was snapped up by US buyout firm KKR for £11 billion in 2007.

It would also see another British name fall into foreign hands after recent high-profile takeovers such as US group Kraft's controversial acquisition of Cadbury.

Equity firm CVC, which owns Formula One, is said to have considered a bid last summer but pulled out after its plans were made public.

The takeover spotlight has once more fallen on M&S with its faltering sales in recent years.

Chief executive Marc Bolland is leading a turnaround plan to revive its performance but progress is slow because of difficult high street conditions.

Former boss of M&S to take over at Ocado

The former boss of Marks and Spencer, Sir Stuart Rose, is taking over as Chairman of online grocer Ocado. Rose left M&S at the start of 2011 after a six years. Ocado sales were up 14% over Christmas, to £91.6 million in the six weeks to January 6.

Sir Stuart Rose Credit: Press Association

Sir Stuart Rose said: "I have been very impressed at the impact and progress Ocado has made to date. As retail goes through a fundamental shift into the digital world, I believe Ocado's model and the high standards of customer service it provides will see it emerge as a powerful online player."

Despite a successful Christmas, Ocado has yet to post an annual profit.

M&S chief: Company making 'strong progress'

Marks & Spencer Chief Executive Marc Bolland said the company is making "strong progress" in its bid to become an "international multi-channel retailer", despite reporting a drop in pre-tax profit during the first half of the year.

Instead, Mr Bolland highlighted the firm's performance in the second quarter, which was better than the previous quarter.

We took steps to address the short term merchandising issues in General Merchandise and as a result, we delivered an improved performance.

Eighteen months in, we are making strong progress with our plan to transform M&S into an International Multi-channel retailer.

Our new International stores are performing well, and our Multi-channel business is delivering strong growth.

– Marks & Spencer CEO Marc Bolland
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