The '&more' loyalty-based credit card from the UK retailer, Marks & Spencer, is considered a great success, having accumulated an extra 400,000 accounts since December 2003, according to the firm's Q4 trading statement and update.
"The &more card was successfully launched last Autumn and we now have 2.1 million accounts (2.7 million card-holders), compared to 1.7 million accounts in December 2003," said Marks & Spencer chief executive Roger Holmes in the trading statement. "Moreover, 1.5 million of our customers were issued a total of 10 million worth of Reward vouchers during the quarter, and half of these have already been spent."
From an operational point of view, the continued development of the &more credit and loyalty card business is expected to reduce Marks & Spencer Financial Services profits by approximately 40 million for the financial year 2004/2005, compared to the 60 million reduction seen in 2003/2004.
The company is also renewing and adding to its store network, continuing to develop what Holmes called a "more attractive and inspirational shopping environment" for its customers, including improvements to its product and service offering. The next phase of the programme is to be demonstrated in at least ten more stores (following successful store updates in Speke and Windsor) in 2004 and 2005, including six new stores and the re-modelling of some existing shops such as Basingstoke (which opens again in Autumn 2004).
"Sales continue to be affected by the ongoing repositioning of our offer, as we seek to broaden our appeal to more customers. We opened the first pilot Marks & Spencer Lifestore in February 2004. We are delighted with the interest it has generated but it is early days, and we look forward to the opening of the second store in Kingston during the Summer," said Holmes.
Group profit (before tax and exceptional items) for the financial year is expected to be in line with general market expectations, with strong control of costs off-setting disappointing fourth quarter sales.