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Opinion
Andrea Felsted

The Good Ship M&S Never Had It Better

Britain’s retail stalwart emerged from Covid in excellent shape. Unfortunately, the good times are coming to an end.

Good times.

Good times.

Photographer: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP

“Never the same again” was the name Marks & Spencer Group Plc gave to its effort to transform in the wake of Covid-19. But perhaps “Never had it so good” would have been more apt.

As the high-street bellwether emerged from the pandemic, it benefited from consumers’ pent-up demand and the failure of a raft of rivals. Add in shoppers’ appetites rebounding much stronger than expected, leading to fewer markdowns, and the success of Ocado Group Plc’s retail arm, of which M&S owns half, and it’s little wonder that M&S pre-tax profit before one-time charges jumped tenfold to £522.9 million ($655 million) in the year to April 2 from £50.3 million in the previous year.