Marks and Spencer, a bastion of the UK high street, is expected to be expelled today from the FTSE 100, the group of the country’s biggest listed companies.
M&S’ relegation would mark the first time the bellwether retailer has traded outside of the index of top 100 listed UK companies in the 35 years since it was launched.
The demotion will compound an already challenging year for the company in which it struggled to address changing consumer habits – particularly the ongoing shift to online shopping – and a period in which shares have fallen by 40%.
In July the company dismissed its fashion boss Jill McDonald after two years in the position, leading chief executive Steve Rowe to take personal charge of the division.
Last year the retailer also announced plans to close up to 100 stores by 2022.
And it was hit by investor backlash in February after striking up a £750m joint venture with online delivery company Ocado.
M&S shares closed down 1.5% on Tuesday, giving the company a market capitalisation of £3.7bn as the London Stock Exchange closed for the day.
The company’s future ranking will be determined from this value and will be officially announced after the market closes later today.
All FTSE companies that fall below the ranking of 111th are automatically demoted from the FTSE 100, and pushed into the FTSE 250 index.
For automatic entry into the FTSE 100, FTSE 250 companies need to reach the 90th highest position overall.
As there are a fixed number of companies in each index, a “rebalancing” through deletions and additions must take place.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said that in the event of its demotion M&S chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Steve Rowe must “not try to manage the share price” but rather, continue to focus on the retail giant’s assets.
He said: “The issue is their strategy will need time, especially when it comes to the Ocado deal, and investors have become impatient.”
He added: “Investors may be more willing to give M&S a chance if it can stop the long sequence of like-for-like declines in quarterly food and clothing sales, nine quarters and counting.”
Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Unfortunately for Marks & Spencer it wasn’t as swift as others when it came to prioritising online, which didn’t help performance, particularly in clothing & home.
“Progress is being made on this front, with a renewed focus on must-have items and a smoother online experience, which is seeing online sales improve.”
Software and IT giant Micro Focus and insurance company Direct Line are also earmarked to be cast out of the FTSE 100.
Meanwhile in the FTSE 250, fashion chain Ted Baker and “challenger” Metro Bank are also on the brink of falling out.
The Woodford Patient Capital Trust, the namesake trust managed by troubled fund manager Neil Woodford’s Investment Management, is also dropping out, following several board departures and a share price drop of 50% this year.