M&S shoppers queue or order online - UK
Fin24 - Dec 9th 2014, 10:01
London - Marks & Spencer, Britain's biggest clothing retailer by sales admits that it has been forced to extend delivery times for online orders as a new distribution centre has struggled to cope with heavy Christmas demand.
Improving its online offer is a central plan of M&S's strategy to reverse nearly a decade of market share decline in its clothing business. Its stock was the second-biggest faller on Britain's FTSE 100 index of blue chips on Monday.
The retailer had attracted a jump in orders during its four-day promotion, which started on 28 November to coincide with "Black Friday" events across the industry.
To ensure delivery options offered to customers were accurate, M&S extended slots on its website for standard delivery from three to five days to as many as 10 days and withdrew next-day delivery, prompting some complaints on social media.
Next-day delivery to homes has since been switched back on, but deliveries to stores are still taking two to three days.
"Our customer is always our top priority and that is why we've extended some of our delivery options," M&S said in a statement on Monday.
"The vast majority of orders are delivered on time. If we do miss a delivery date, we will do all we can to rectify it."
Shares in M&S were down 3.3% at 481 pence just before lunch, valuing the company at £7.9bn.
The retailer's fully automated 83 612.736m2 e-commerce distribution centre in Castle Donington, central England, opened in April last year and was scheduled to reach full capacity in the run-up to Christmas this year.
Peak trading period
"It's the first Christmas of having all M&S.com there. With an operation of that scale, you are always going to get some onsite challenges," an M&S spokesperson said.
M&S's new website went live in April this year but has also been beset by teething problems.
M&S.com sales fell 6.3% in the first half to 27 September, though the firm said last month that it was on track to return to growth ahead of the peak trading period.
A glimmer of improvement in women's clothing helped M&S post its first rise in first-half profit for four years in November, though analysts said it was too soon to declare a turnaround.From Fin24.com
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