Preview: Investors await update from new Marks boss

Investors hope Steve Rowe will outline fresh plans to revive beleaguered retailer

The City is seeking news of an upturn in M&S's lacklustre clothing business

Investors will be looking for Marks & Spencer's new boss to unveil a revival in the fortunes of the high street bellwether (LON:MKS) on Wednesday.

The trading update in April was fairly gloomy but not as bad as had been expected, with underlying sales for the 13 weeks to March 26 falling 2.7% in core clothing and homeware.

That reverse was better than the 3.4% being predicted by the market and the 5.8% drop recorded in the third quarter.

Rowe, who has replaced Marc Bolland, said at the time the performance was mixed, with the food business once again outperforming the market by around 3.5% pts. 

"Although the sales decline in clothing and home was lower than last quarter, our performance remains unsatisfactory and there is still more we need to do," he said.

Laith Khalaf at Hargreaves Lansdown noted: "M&S now takes £1 out of every £25 spent on food in the UK, putting it in the same basket as players like Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose.

"This is testament to how well its food business has grown, with 80 new stores opened over the last year."

Khalaf also notes the strong growth in online sales was encouraging, but that "this bright light does serve to highlight quite how gloomy things are on the shop floor."

Also in big-cap world, Dixons Carphone Group PLC (LON:DC.) reports.

The merged electrical retailer had a record Black Friday, as reported in January, which helped it to predict annual profits ahead of hopes.

The company said a strong performance during the price-cutting event in late November and buoyant discounted sales after Christmas boosted group like-for-like revenue in the 10 weeks to January 9 by 5%.

It expected group headline pre-tax profit in the full year to be between £440mln and £450mln, slightly ahead of consensus

Numis says: "We expect further solid progress during the fourth quarter, with consensus forecasts indicating LFL of +2% in the UK, +4% for the Nordics and a flat result in S Europe giving +2% at group level, on track for FY forecasts.

The shares have outperformed the sector by 5% over the past 12 months, it highlighted.

Other companies set to report include: 

Finals: Babcock International; Great Portland; Marks and Spencer; Mediclinic International; Pennon; Wizz Air.
Interims: Shaftesbury; Zoopla.

First quarter results: HSS Hire.

Trading statements: Hilton Food Group; Intertek.

AGM: Alliance Pharma; e-Therapeutics; Paysafe; Polypipe; SQS; Travis Perkins

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