Beleaguered retailer Marks & Spencer has been hit by online delivery problems in the key pre-Christmas period in a fresh blow to its recovery plans.
The issues mean customers are not able to make in-store click-and-collect orders for the next day, while deliveries to home addresses, normally taking three to five days, are taking up to 10 days.
Shares fell 3% as reports of the problems blunted hopes of a revival in M&S’s fortunes, a month after signs of improved trading in womenswear and a surprise rise in half-year profits cheered the City.
Marks’s revamped website had already been proving a headache with sales down 6.3% in the six months to the end of September following a launch earlier this year.
The latest delays were caused by problems at the retailer’s distribution centre in Castle Donington, Leicestershire – opened in May last year – according to the Guardian.
M&S said there were “always going to be challenges” at the “relatively new distribution centre”.
It said a four-day period that included “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” had proved very popular and prompted it to extend delivery times.
A number of customers used M&S’s Facebook page to complain, with one directly addressing chief executive Marc Bolland over a Christmas bauble order.
She said she was £100 out of pocket after taking time off work to await the delivery which was delayed by 48 hours despite her having paid extra for a specified date.
“I’ve two very disappointed small children who cannot wait to put up the tree.
“I’m forced to air my feelings as I am a lifelong M&S shopper. I would normally spend upwards of £500 over the Christmas period on presents, decorations, food and other things.
“I think I’m off to Aldi now on my day off. They don’t do delivery, but neither do you!”
M&S has struggled to get its new website up to speed since it was launched in February, blaming teething problems including issues with customer registration and navigation for a slump in sales in the first quarter.
Online sales were also down in the second quarter but not as badly as the previous period and Marks said last month they were on an improving trend and “on track to return to growth ahead of our peak trading period”.
A spokesman said: “Our customer is always our top priority and that is why we’ve extended some of our delivery options.
“The vast majority of orders are delivered on time. If we do miss a delivery date, we will do all we can to rectify it for the customer.”
M&S has been struggling to turn around its fortunes under Mr Bolland and last month reported its 13th successive quarter of falling sales in its clothing division.