Brown suede skirt jump-starts M&S recovery

A must-have brown suede skirt is credited with having turned round the fortunes of Marks & Spencer.

Brown suede skirt jump-starts M&S recovery

A must-have brown suede skirt is credited with having turned round the fortunes of Marks & Spencer.

The retailer has reported its first rise in profits for four years as they lifted by 6.1% to £661.2m.

The must-have 1970s-style suede skirt went on sale in only the top 100 M and S stores, with a high-end piece tag of £199. It was spotted in Februaury on TV presenter Alexa Chung and American socialite Olivia Palermo.

The increase in underlying pre-tax profits comes despite a year in which the retailer admitted it missed expectations for its struggling general merchandise division, including clothing.

However the final quarter of the year saw the division show signs of a turnaround after it posted a rise in like-for-like sales following a string of declines.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “We are transforming M&S into a stronger, more agile business – putting the right infrastructure, capabilities and talent in place to drive our strategic priorities.”

Financial analyst Louise Cooper said the business still needed to do more to attract younger shoppers.

She said: "They're definitely getting the high-end fashion right (but) they're still quite expensive…compared to many high street outlets."

The company says its 15 Irish stores have been recovering after restructuring. M&S closed four Irish stores in the last two years, as well as closing a profitable pension scheme.

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