Marks & Spencer warns Irish customers of Brexit tariffs on Percy Pig candies

Andrew Cummings
January 11, 2021

The food division grew, as M&S was one of the few retailers that could keep its physical stores open during pandemic-related closures in the United Kingdom, along with supermarkets including Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

Food sales were up 2.2% in the quarter, having increased by 1.6% in the second quarter. Global sales suffered and were down overall by 10.4%.

Britain on Friday (1 January) began a new year and life outside Europe, after leaving the bloc's single market trading rules to go it alone for the first time in almost half a century.

Shares in M&S are now trading -2.20% at 138.24 (0943GMT).

"Given the on-off restrictions and distortions in demand patterns our trading was robust over the Christmas period", said chief executive Steve Rowe. "Beneath the COVID-19 clouds we saw a very strong performance from the food business, including Ocado Retail and a further acceleration of clothing and home online", he said.

Seeking ahead, Mr Rowe claimed: "Near expression, trading remains pretty challenging, but we are continuing to accelerate modify below our Never The Very same All over again programme to make sure the company emerges from the pandemic in extremely various form".

Clothing and home sales were heavily affected by the restrictions, with in-store revenues down by 46.5% and online sales up 47.5% resulting in an overall drop of 25.1%. During lockdown, M&S retail stores had to cordon off large parts of the shop floor that housed men's, women's and children's clothing, accessories and footwear.

Emily Salter, retail analyst at GlobalData, said M&S was "paying the cost for its inability to adapt fast enough to changing shopping habits".

The company said the new free-trade agreement with the European Union means it will not incur tariffs on its core United Kingdom sales.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe also warned that, despite the United Kingdom signing a free trade agreement with the European Union, new rules and regulations are set to "significantly impact" its overseas ventures in Ireland, the Czech Republic and France, although he insisted the retailer was "actively working to mitigate" the issues.

M&S said the announcement of an effective United Kingdom wide lockdown, potentially enduring until Easter will impact store sales and it was continuing to actively manage its Clothing & Home stock and store cost base accordingly.

Like-for-like food sales had risen 2.6% during the period, it said.

There are fifty major United Kingdom retailers who are looking closely at the new regulations for worldwide purchases.

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