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The Marks & Spencer Group plc (MKS) is a world-famous British retailer with almost 1,500 stores and its own ecommerce platform. The company operates both in the UK and internationally, offering its upmarket food, clothing and homeware products to customers around the globe. There are a number of different Marks & Spencer store formats, ranging from core shops that feature both food and clothing, to convenience stores and outlets on retail parks. For its 2020 financial year ended March 28, 2020, the company posted revenues of £10.181bn.
Marks and Spencer shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) under the ticker symbol MKS. The company is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
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Founded in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer, the company has traditionally emphasised quality British-made goods. It entered into long-term relationships with UK manufacturers and sold most of its products under the St Michael label until 2000. M&S expanded cautiously to other countries, opening its first stores in continental Europe in 1975.
Profits peaked in 1997-1998 when M&S became the first British retailer to make a pre-tax profit of more than £1bn. But then a sharp decline set in. In response, the business introduced numerous innovations including an online shopping service in 1999, a new Per Una clothing range in 2001, and the launch of the Simply Food convenience format in the same year.
In recent years, the business has experienced declining clothing sales but a stronger performance in the food segment. Store closure programmes were announced in July 2015 and November 2017, with the aim of shutting smaller and less profitable outlets.
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In regard to the company’s shares performance, the Marks and Spencer stock price peaked at an all-time high of 743.50 GBX in May 2007. However, once the global financial crisis hit the markets, shares started to lose in value quickly, eventually crashing to trade around 200 GBX in November 2008.
A recovery followed, and while the stock could never reach its pre-crisis level again, the Marks and Spencer plc share price managed to soar to 563.93 GBX by May 2015. Shortly after, shares gained another downward momentum, with the stock plunging dramatically.
On September 22, 2019, it traded at 188 GBX per share. The next day, the stock was demoted from the FTSE Index, in which it was included in 1983. After plummeting to 163.90 GBX in October, shares ended the year at 213.35 GBX.
In the first half of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic led to many brick-and-mortar retailing businesses losing their customers and, hence, profits, with a number of companies filing for bankruptcy. Marks & Spencer also took a hard hit and, on May 15, the stock traded at 85 GBX per share, its historically lowest level. At the beginning of June, price inched a bit higher for the stock to trade at 120.50 GBX per share.
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