Too much was bought in some food categories, says Rowe. © In Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty Images
Too much was bought in some food categories, says Rowe. © In Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty Images

‘Our supply chain requires improvement’, says M&S boss

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
9 January 2020

Marks and Spencer’s results over Christmas were impacted by food waste and buying decisions in menswear.

In a trading statement for the third quarter of 2019-20 M&S said overall like-for-like sales were down 0.2% to £2.8bn against a background of “unprecedented discounting from competitors”.

In a call to investors chief executive Steve Rowe said food waste levels were “higher than we would have liked”.

“As we have said before, our supply chain requires improvement,” he said.

Rowe said one in four turkeys sold in the UK came from M&S and the waste occurred in the two weeks of Christmas in categories where they “went for it”. “Frankly we bought a little bit too much in some categories,” he said.

In menswear Rowe said they “got the balance wrong” in terms of the styles and sizes they bought, which were “more contemporary in styling fit”.

Rowe referred to the company’s ongoing cost-saving programme. “We are pleased with the progress we are making on cost reduction,” he said. “We have got more to do.”

At the end of last year M&S hired Paul Babbs from Adidas to be its new chief supply chain officer in the clothing and home division.

M&S’s former clothing and home supply chain and logistics director Gordon Mowat left in September after two years in the role, while former managing director of clothing and home Jill MacDonald left the company in July.

In July 2019 it was announced Rowe would head up the clothing and home supply chain programme to resolve “long-standing” issues around “availability and flow of product”. 

At the annual shareholders meeting, Rowe explained how a failed jeans promotion in February 2019 had led to the “worst availability” he had seen in his life. 

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