Marks & Spencer expects up to £47m in Brexit costs as profits slump

Group committed to Irish business despite brexit costs, says CEO

Photograph: iStock

British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) expects to be hit by between £42 million (€49 million) and £47 million in Brexit costs for the current year, particularly affecting its business in the Ireland.

But chief executive Steve Rowe said the group remains committed to having a presence in Ireland.

The group on Wednesday reported an 88 per cent slump in full-year profit, reflecting a collapse in clothing sales due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and warned investors not to expect a dividend this year. But it said it was making progress with its turnaround plan, had traded well in the early weeks of the 2021-2022 financial year and that profits would recover, sending its battered shares up more than 4 per cent in early trading.

Commenting on the impact of Brexit, Mr Rowe said: “This has not been a free trade deal.”


M&S, which also sells upmarket food, made a pretax profit before one-off items of £50.3 million in the year to April 3rd, down from the £403.1 million made in 2019-20.

The 137-year old group, one of the best known names in British retail, said like-for-like clothing and homeware sales plunged 31.5 per cent, damaged by multiple lockdowns which shuttered stores.

Clothing and homeware sales in stores crashed 56.2 per cent, partly offset by online growth of 53.9 per cent.

In food, where space remained open during the crisis, like-for-like sales rose 1.3 per cent.

On a statutory basis M&S sank to a pretax loss of £209.4 million, versus a profit of £67.2 million in 2019-20.

All UK clothing retailers have been hit hard by the pandemic. Last month Primark (Penneys in the Republic) which does not trade online, reported a drop in annual profit of 90 per cent. Next, which has a huge online business, has shown greater resilience but its full-year profit still fell 53 per cent.


Mr Rowe has been driving M&S’s latest attempt at a reinvention after decades of failures.

Along with chairman Archie Norman he has focused on transforming the company's culture, while closing stores, investing heavily in technology and ecommerce, and improving product and value to broaden its appeal.

M&S reckons the pandemic has masked the progress it is making with its turnaround and said it has moved beyond the “fixing the basics” stage.

“We now have a clear line of sight on the path to make M&S special again. The transformation has moved to the next phase,” said Mr Rowe.

M&S said trading for the first six weeks of the 2021-22 financial year had been ahead of the comparable period two years ago and its central expectations.

It forecast underlying pretax profit to recover to £300-350 million in 2021-22. – Reuters/PA