British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) joined rivals in sounding cautious about prospects for consumer spending, even as it reported an improving sales trend for the fifth quarter in a row that beat forecasts.
The 126-year-old clothing, food and homewares group said yesterday that sales at British shops that have been open for at least one year surged 5.1 percent in the 13 weeks to March 27, its fiscal fourth quarter.
That beat analysts’ average forecast of 1.7 percent in a company poll, helped by strong demand for formalwear and knitwear and a boost from the first day of the post-Christmas sale, which was included in third-quarter results last year.
M&S said full-year pretax profit would be between £620 million and £630 million (US$945 million to US$960 million), in line with analysts’ consensus forecast, as a smaller-than-expected fall in profit margins was offset by a rise in operating costs.
The group said gross profit margins would be broadly level in the 2010 to 2011 financial year, while operating costs would rise between 4 percent and 5 percent, partly due to planned new selling space.
“We have weathered the immediate impact of the recession, but remain cautious about the outlook for 2010/11 given the current challenging environment,” it said in a statement.
Separately, Swedish fashion chain Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) AB yesterday said profits rose 45 percent in the first quarter, helped by higher sales and an increased number of stores.
Europe’s No. 2 fashion retailer said net profit in the three months ending on Feb. 28, its fiscal first quarter, increased to 3.7 billion kronor (US$511 million) from 2.6 billion in the same period a year ago.
Sales, excluding value-added tax, rose 7 percent to 24.8 billion kronor from 23.3 billion. However, the budget chain said sales in local currencies increased by 13 percent and rose 2 percent when excluding the impact of new store openings.
“The spring collections have been well received,” H&M said in a statement. “In view of the continued weak economy during the quarter, the company considers that sales have been satisfactory.”
The bottom-line result and the company’s closely watched gross margin, which rose to 61.9 percent from 56.6 percent, were better than analysts’ expectations, while sales were lower than forecast.
H&M had 1,992 stores at the end of February, up from 1,748 a year ago.
It said new store openings in South Korea and Israel had been met with great interest during the quarter and that it plans to open 73 new stores in the second quarter, mainly in the UK, China, Norway, Denmark and Germany.
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South