Marks & Spencer profits plunge amid store closure plan

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Yesterday, M&S said it would close 100 United Kingdom stores by 2022, further accelerating the plan as it strives to make at least a third of sales online.

Shares in M&S have fallen 26 percent over the past year and the firm is in danger of being booted out of the prestigious FTSE 100 index.

Shares in Marks & Spencer Group (LON:MKS) have jumped in London this morning, even as the blue-chip retailer revealed a hefty slump in full-year profits, reflecting costs related to its transformation programme. Total UK sales grew 1.8% but on a like-for-like basis declined 0.9%. There are also M&S Simply Food stores Oswestry and Bridgnorth.

Primark is set to overtake M&S to become the UK's largest clothing retailer by market share, according to new data.

In notes attached to its results, the company said the "continued migration" of clothing and home products online; the development of global competition; the growth of home delivery in food; and "the march of the discounters" all amounted to threats to its business. "Accelerated change is the only option", M&S said in a statement.

The high-street chain which has a total of one thousand and thirty-five stores at the end of 2017-18 fiscal year, would be publishing its yearly results today.

The company said it expects to reduce floor space for clothing and home by 5% in 2019 while the space dedicated to food will be broadly level with the previous year.

It said online sales were growing, but that its online capability was "behind the best of our competitors and our website is too slow". But the hard truth is that M&S has more stores than it needs, given our changing shopping habits.

"There are a number of structural issues to address and we are taking steps towards fixing these", Mr Rowe added.

"The new organisation will largely be in place by July and the team is now tackling transforming our culture to make M&S a faster, lower cost, more commercial, more digital business".

Rowe said it was targeting sustainable, profitable growth in three to five years time. Free cashflow before adjusting items was down 12.6 per cent to £582.4 million from £666.3 million.

"M&S is now teetering on the edge of relegation from the FTSE 100 in the quarterly reshuffle next week", said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

"We do not think the downgrade cycle may yet be over", said analysts at Liberum, maintaining their "sell" rating. The company has "kitchen sinked" with huge exceptional items resulting from its store closure programme, the broker said.