Marks & Spencer Chief Bolland to Leave as Sales Slump Continues

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Marks & Spencer Group Plc said Chief Executive Officer Marc Bolland will step down this year after reporting a worse-than-expected slump in clothing sales over Christmas.

Bolland will be succeeded by Steve Rowe, executive director of general merchandise, the unit that includes clothing, London-based Marks & Spencer said in a statement Thursday.

Same-store sales of general merchandise, a division that mostly comprises apparel, fell 5.8 percent in the 13 weeks ended Dec. 26, the London-based retailer said Thursday. That compared with the median estimate of 24 analysts for a 2 percent decline, and is on top of a 5.8 percent drop in the same period a year ago.

“General merchandise sales were disappointing,” Bolland said in the statement. Gross profit margins will be at the high end of the company’s indicated range after the retailer avoided the pre-holiday discounting of others, he said.

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