Marks & Spencer has distributed almost one million “discount vouchers” in an attempt to boost sales ahead of next month’s trading update.
The retailer is repeating a “families and friends” promotion it ran for the first time last February. More than 70,000 staff have been sent a dozen vouchers, offering 20pc off clothing, food and homewares. Staff have been asked to give the vouchers to friends and families, although in February a number were sold on eBay.
“It was a very well received promotion,” said an M&S spokeswoman.
The vouchers are valid for use between next Thursday and Saturday. M&S’s first quarter finishes at the end of the month.
The promotion is likely to spark renewed fears about current trading at M&S. The retailer is also running a promotion on champagne and wine, as well as offering 30pc off furniture.
Sir Stuart Rose, executive chairman of M&S, is due to update investors on first-quarter trading at the retailer’s general meeting in July.
Like all retailers, M&S has been hit hard by a downturn in consumer confidence. Recent reports have also claimed that Debenhams and Next are winning back market share lost to M&S in recent years.
“We expect market conditions to remain difficult for the foreseeable future,” said Sir Stuart in May when he announced full-year results.
M&S shares have almost halved over the past 12 months, despite the group reporting profits of more than £1bn. The shares closed little changed yesterday at 342p.