Marks & Spencer clothing sales begin to recover
Marks & Spencer has reported improved clothing sales in its fourth quarter, with like-for-like sales edging up 0.6%.
However, like-for-like sales of general merchandise dropped by 0.6% overall in the 13 weeks to 29 March to mark the 11th consecutive quarter of decline for the division. Meanwhile, like-for-like food sales rose by 0.1%.
Across the group, sales rose by 1.9% while in the UK like-for-like sales dropped by 0.2% and total sales rose by 1.5%.
Marc Bolland, Marks & Spencer chief executive, said: "We delivered another quarter of improvement in general merchandise. Clothing sales were up 1.3% in total, up 0.6% on a like-for-like basis. We are encouraged by womenswear, which is showing clear signs of improvement and performed ahead of clothing.
"Our food business had another great quarter, especially considering the later timing of Easter. This marks our 18th consecutive quarter of growth. We continued to outperform the market with record sales around key events including Valentine's Day and Mother's Day."
The retailer said its clothing business had delivered an improved performance against a backdrop of high levels of discounting in the market. Following a better performance over Christmas, womenswear sales continued to strengthen as customers responded well to the new Spring/Summer collection.
The food business benefited from customers turning to the retailer for special events such as Valentine’s Day, which led to a record number of Dine In ready meal deals being sold. In addition, Mother's Day produced a record day on chocolates and flowers.
Marks & Spencer completed the migration of its website from Amazon onto its new platform in the period. Despite the major change, online sales rose by 12.5% in the quarter.
The company said its international business had performed well with sales rising by 4.7%.
Looking ahead Marks & Spencer said: "Despite some improvement in consumer confidence, we remain cautious about the outlook. Our focus is on continuing to transform Marks & Spencer into an international, multi-channel retailer."
Marks & Spencer will report its full year results 20 May 2014.
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