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AF4S31 Financial Analysis For Position Analysis Of Marks And Spencer

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1.Analyse the company’s financial position:
(i)Calculate a range of appropriate ratios across the key financial performance indicators: profitability, investors, liquidity, gearing and use of resources.
(ii)Analyse and evaluate the results over the two consecutive years using industry averages as a baseline for the interpretation of its position.

2.Critically evaluate the company’s position within the industry from a finance perspective. You are required to use an appropriate business analysis tool such as PESTLE.



Financial analysis is a term used for evaluating and analysing the financial performance of a company. This analysis provides a greater insight to the potential investors about company’s financial position in the market. It is basically a process of evaluating the budgets, projects and other finance related businesses for determining their performance. Generally it is used to analyse the stability, solvency, liquidity and profitability of an entity. Among the various tools available for conducting the analysis, ratio analysis is the most common and preferred method used for measuring the firm’s performance in several financial aspects. The ratios are calculated on the basis of data mentioned in the income statement, balance sheet and cash flow of the company which are reported in its annual report (Fridson and Alvarez, 2011).

The report contains a performance and position analysis of Marks and Spencer. It includes a brief summary about M&S and its core activities along with the identification of the market and its key competitors. Analysis is been done by calculating various profitability, liquidity and efficiency ratios. It also compare those ratios with the industry averages in which M&S operates. A critical evaluation of the company is also done using the PESTLE analysis. The findings of the report are concluded in its last part, providing the recommendation on company’s position and performance in the market.   


Overview of Marks and Spencer 

M&S is a UK based company and is a multinational retailer having its headquarters situated in London. It deals in selling of clothing, home products and luxury food products. The company was founded in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer in Leeds. Along with its key products M&S has also started selling branded goods like Kellogg's Corn Flakes in 2008. M&S currently has 979 stores across the United Kingdom out of which 615 only sell food products. The company is listed on London Stock Exchange and is a component of FTSE 100 Index. It is a holding company of the Marks & Spencer Group of companies. It operates through two segments, one is UK and other is international. The UK segment includes the United Kingdom retail business and its franchise operations whereas international market consists of the M&S owned businesses in the Republic of Ireland, Europe and Asia, together with international franchise operations. The key products that company sells are womenswear, menswear, kids wear, and home and beauty products. At London Stock exchange it is traded with a ticker symbol of MKS.L and its current market price per share is 280.60GBp. According to the recent data, the revenue recorded by M&S is 10.75 billion and the net income earned amounted to 184.90 million (in GBP) ( 2018).


M&S aims at providing the quality products in the areas of food, cloth, home and financial services. The mission of the company is to deliver high quality goods at affordable or reasonable prices and fulfilling all the requirements of its customers along with complying with its social responsibilities.


The vision is to become the standard or the benchmark, against which other companies are been measured. M&S vision includes a plan – A made by the company that will support 1,000 communities and help 10 million people to live a happier, healthier lives and convert M&S into a zero-waste business.

The main competitors of Marks and Spencer are Aldi, Tesco, Asda, and Sainsbury. These are among the four main supermarkets in United Kingdom and give tough competition to M&S. These companies not only provide high quality but also value added products in order to build customer loyalty. In the clothing market, Gap, Next, Topshop, BHS and other fashionable brands are the key competitors of Marks and Spencer. In order to compete with such companies, the core strategy of M&S is quality, value, better service, innovation and trust. Due to the highly priced products, the company decided to target the upper middle class people as its customers as they are the people who are ready to pay a lot for their food and clothes. The beta of the company is 1.13 and its market capitalization as if today is £4,597.80. The company is performing well in financial terms and owns a large portion of UK market ( 2018).

Analysis of financial position – Ratios and comparison with industry averages

Liquidity ratios

They measure the capability of the company of utilizing its current assets to meet its short term financial obligations (Zainudin and Hashim, 2016).

  • Current Ratio: It determines the capability of the company to set off its short term liabilities with its current assets (Krantz and Johnson, 2014). Referring to Appendix 1, it can be said that the current ratio of M&S has remained same over 2015 and 2016. This is because of the slightest change in current liabilities and current assets of the firm. While, comparatively Next Plc. And Burberry Group Plc. has high current ratio of 1.4 and 2.77 respectively.
  • Quick Ratio: Same like current ratio, it measures company’s ability to pay its liabilities with its quick assets. (Warren, Reeve and Duchac, 2011). M&S quick ratio also remains the same over the two years that is 0.31 (refer Appendix 1). Reason being, a minor change in the value of inventory, CA and CL. When compared with the competitors it is observed that Burberry Group has high QR of 1.78 followed by Next with a ratio of 0.91.
  • Cash ratio: it is a ratio which compares only cash and cash equivalents of the company with its current liabilities. It measures the ability of a business to repay its current liabilities by only using the cash balance (Lee, Lee and Lee, 2009).Referring to Appendix 1, it is observed that a slightest increase is there in M&S cash ratio from 0.10 to 0.12. This is due to the reduction in the amount of current liabilities. However, the company has a very low ratio which implies that it does not have enough cash in hand to pay its short term debts. 

Profitability Ratios 

They reflect the profit making capacity of the company and measure its profitability position in the market (Jenter and Lewellen, 2015).

  • Return on Equity: The ratio shows the trend in the return provided to the shareholders on their investment. A high ROE is more desirable (Penman, Reggiani, Richardson and Tuna, 2017). Looking at Appendix 2, it can be said that ROE of M&S in 2015 was 15.06% whereas the same ratio reported in 2016 was 11.74%. The Ratio has been reduced because of the reduction in net profit in year 2016, due to which the company has provided less returns. However, it has offered less returns as compare to its competitors in the industry. Next Plc. Has high ROE of 201.41% in 2016.
  • Return on Assets: This ratio shows how capable management is at using its assets for generating earnings. A higher ROA is considered to be more favourable for investors (Higgins, 2012). The same trend follows in ROA of M&S. It has also reduced from 5.88% to 4.77% (Appendix 2). Reason is the reduced profits and increases total assets. This implies that the company is not able to generate more returns from its assets and also the ratio is very much low than its competitors in the industry. Next Plc. Has generated high returns on its assets with a ratio of 28.91%.  
  • Net profit ratio: it is a popular profitability ratio that shows relationship between net profit after tax and net sales. It is computed by dividing the net profit (after tax) by net sales (Gibson, 2011). The NPR of Marks and Spencer has also reduced over the two years. In 2015, it was reported as 5% and in 2016, it falls to 3.83%. The sole reason behind such fall is the reduction in the net profit earned by the company in 2016. The same trend follows in M&S’s NPR also when it is compared to its competitors. Next Plc. Has NPR of 15.96% and Burberry has NPR of 12%.  
  • Operating Profit Margin: Operating net profit ratio is calculated by dividing the operating net profit by sales. This ratio helps in determining the ability of the management in running the business (Bragg, 2012). OPR of M&S has been decreased by 2% in 2016 that is from 7% to 5%. This is due to the 28% decrease in the operating profit of the company, against which the total revenue has been increased (Appendix 2). Just like NPR, M&S OPR is also less than the other two companies.

Efficiency ratios

These ratios indicate how proficiently, a company utilizes all its resources to pay off its debts (Tracy, 2012). 

  • Receivables turnover ratio: it shows that whether company collects its debtors timely or not. High DTR is desirable as it shows the timely collection of accounts receivables (Salunke and Bagad, 2009). Mark and Spencer’s debtor turnover ratio was 32.84 in 2016 and in 2015, the same ratio was reported as 32.67. This is due to increase in the value of debtors and it implies that company is collecting its receivables timely and is able to maintain the same over the years (Appendix 3). However, its DTR is very much more than its competitors which makes the company more efficient.
  • Inventory turnover ratio: Inventory turnover is a ratio showing how many times a company's inventory is sold and replaced over a period of time (Kimmel, Weygandt and Kieso, 2010).  Referring to Appendix 3, the ITR of Marks and Spencer increased from 12.55 to 13.21 in year 2016. This is because of decrease in inventory and increase in sales. This implies that company is efficient enough in generating revenue from its inventories. As compared with the industry, M&S has ITR in 2016.
  • Asset turnover: it is an efficiency ratio that measures a company’s ability to generate sales from its assets by comparing net sales with average total assets (Vogel, 2014). M&S ATR in 2016 was 1.27 which was less than that of in 2015. This is because increase in average assets is more than the increase in company’s total revenue. Also the ratio is less than the ATR of Next Plc. But more than Burberry Group.

Gearing ratio

It is basically a measurement of the entity’s financial leverage. Following are the gearing ratios:

  • Debt-equity ratio: It shows the proportion of total debt to the total equity of the firm. Having a high ratio means company has large portion of debt financing. (Bragg, 2012).

Referring to Appendix 4, the D/E ratio of M&S has been reduced from 1.56 to 1.46 over the two years. Reason being, the equity of the firm increase by 8%, against which there is only 1% increase in the debt portion of the company. This implies that M&S has paid off most of its debt in 2016 and has equity financing in its business. When comparing with industry, it is observed that M&S’s competitor has high D/E ratio of 1.97.

  • Interest coverage ratio: It measures the ability of company to pay off its interest expense. (Nikolai, Bazley and Jones, 2009). Appendix 4 shows that the capability of M&S to pay off its interest expense has reduced in 2016 to 4.71 times. The same in 2015 was 6 times. This huge reduction is due to the decrease in company’s EBIT while the interest expense remains the same. However, its ICR is less than its competitors in year 2016. Burberry Group reported highest ICR of 278.07 times. 

Investors Ratio

These ratios are generally used by the investors for evaluating a company’s performance (Warren and Jones, 2018). 

  • Price-earnings ratio: From Appendix 5, the P/E ratio of M&S was 18.14 in 2015 and the same was 16.36 in 2016. This value is more than its competitor Next Plc. but less than Burberry Plc. in the industry.
  • Dividend yield ratio: Marks and Spencer’s dividend yield has been increased to 0.05 from 0.03 in year 2016. This is due to the increase in dividend per share declared by the company. Next dividend yield is way more than M&S which implies that, the competitor company has declared more dividends in 2016.
  • Earnings per share: The EPS of entity reported in 2016 was 0.25 cents while in 2015 it was 0.29 cents. Reason being, net income decreases while the number of shares outstanding remains the same. Also, Marks and Spencer’s EPS is lower than the EPS of Next and Burberry.

Critical evaluation of M&S position

PESTLE analysis is basically a business tool used for analysing a company’s position within the industry in which it operates. In other words, it is a tool mostly used by the firms to track the environment in which they are working. PESTLE stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental. It is an overall analysis of the socio-economic environment of the company (Hillson and Webster, 2017). Following is the pestle analysis of Marks and Spencer:


The EC’s free trade agreements has favoured Marks and Spencer and as a result of which, the sourcing cost has been reduced.  High cost structures and high prices has given disadvantages to M&S in international markets. As it is in the news that, the company is known for its Plan-A CSR and Plan-A 2035 initiative but due to the lack of clarity in the energy efficiency scheme of UK government, the initiatives are been negatively affected. Also the Brexit, a public referendum have significant implications on M&S business. The political threats to the company also include the changes happening in the government and the taxation policy followed in the country (McCabe, 2010).


The main factor which affects the Marks and Spencer performance is the discounted pricing of its competitors within the industry. M&S generally focuses on higher quality which make the company to keep its products prices higher. However, this only resulted in short term loss to the company as the customers are more attracted to the quality with value. Currently, the economic overview is very uncertain and can affect the retail sales as the purchasing power of the consumers is highly affected by the currency impact of Brexit. In 2015, the government increased the VAT from 17.5% to 20% which reduces the sale of M&S. In addition to this, the recession was also the reason for the downfall in Marks and Spencer business. However, the company has started focusing on the market flow in order to retain its sales back. Currently, M&S is regaining its position as the economic conditions are turning positive ( 2018).


In the past years, many changes are been noticed in the community and the society in which the company operates. M&S is continuously working on developing new and innovative fashion trends in its clothing and figuring out the new consumer taste. As the products offered by Marks and Spencer are old fashioned and expensive, the business need to strategize regarding delivering the more customer oriented products and following the customer centric approach. M&S is failing in recognizing the social trends and has also received a criticism for being a non-trendy store. Also the recall of chain of products created negative social trends ( 2017).


As M&S also provides online services to its customers so its business is affected by the technological factors such as changes in technology and others. Now days, customers are becoming more digitalized and usually prefer to shop online thorough their mobiles. M&S has made its presence on this platform and is taking full advantage of this factor. Media is the one factor which plays a very important role in communicating the new fashion trend and reasonable prices to the customers. It is required for Marks and Spencer to use the advanced technology to enhance its online market by offering wide variety of products and fast delivery (McCabe, 2010).

Legal Factors

Marks and Spencer is a legal brand as they sell the products to customer by considering all the legal issues associated with the product. Before selling the product they look for all the legal rules and regulations designed. The defined rules and regulations are revised annually so that they are updated and meet all the legal protection. For example they use Fair Packaging and Labelling Act since 1996 to ensure that goods are sold with proper labelling tags that help in building trust among customers. M&S have also created a new channel for building a user friendly experience for customers by allowing home delivery of products. There are various plans that define the legal statement that need to be taken care before performing any activities (Murray, 2010). 

Environmental Factors

Environmental issues are rising day by day to resolve all the factors, marks and spencer have established their own plans to support environmental condition. They have designed a plan to assure that company will not use carbon in coming area and there will be zero per cent wastage. On the other hand it will promote better health and sustainable growth. M&S Plan covers the issue of global warming and focuses on providing an environment friendly place to live in. Marks and Spenser make sure that there products are disposed to their customers in a  correct way by using less packaging materials to secure the natural resources of environment. The important part of the plan is they believe in recycling the material for future use (Lake and Drake, 2016). 



From the overall analysis, it can be concluded that Marks and Spencer has performed quite well in financial year 2015 and 2016. However, its performance is below its competitors within the industry. Another part of the report include a pestle analysis of the firm which shows that the business of Marks and Spencer get highly affected by the changes occurring in the economy and political environment of United Kingdom. The analysis also lay emphasis on the fact that M&S is now focused on following the social trends and has taken many initiatives regarding the issues related to the environment. Overall, it can be said that the company is doing pretty well in its industry and is completely focused on achieving its targets. 



Bragg, S. M. (2012). Business ratios and formulas: a comprehensive guide (Vol. 577). New Jersy: John Wiley & Sons.

Bragg, S. M. (2012). Financial analysis: a controller's guide. New Jersy: John Wiley & Sons. (2017). PESTLE example for retail industry as at July 2017. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 21 April 2018].

Fridson, M.S. and Alvarez, F. (2011). Financial statement analysis: a practitioner's guide (Vol. 597). 4th ed. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Gibson, C. H. (2011). Financial reporting and analysis. USA: South-Western Cengage Learning.

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Hillson, D. and Murray-Webster, R., (2017). Understanding and managing risk attitude. Routledge.

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