Marks & Spencer UK like-for-likes up 0.3% although non-food sales continue to fall
Marks & Spencer saw its UK like-for-like sales edge up in the first quarter of its financial year although general merchandise sales fell for the 12th consecutive quarter.
In the 13 weeks to 28 June, UK total sales climbed 2% while like-for-like sales rose by 0.3%. Group sales increased by 2.3%.
UK food sales grew by 1.7% on a like-for-like basis and by 4.2% on a total basis. Marks & Spencer said the food business had a “great quarter” and had benefited from its strategy of being more specialist to set it apart from the competition. The retailer launched 700 new food products in the period and said it is on track to open 150 new Simply Food stores over the next three years.
The general merchandise business fared less well with like-for-like sales dropping by 1.5% and total sales falling by 0.8%. The retailer said the division’s sales were impacted by the settling in of the new .com site, which also resulted in online sales falling 8.1% in the quarter.
Marks & Spencer said it was continuing to see progress in its clothing business and that womenswear sales had risen as a result of stronger full price sales and a seasonal uplift. Like-for-like clothing sales were down 0.6% in the quarter but total sales edged up 0.1%.
International sales rose by 4.7% as the retailer experienced a strong performance in its priority markets. Marks & Spencer said trading conditions in the Republic of Ireland continued to be challenging while sales in the Middle East were impacted by the timing of shipments to the retailer’s franchise partners.
Commenting on the performance, Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland said: “We have seen a continued improvement in Clothing, although as anticipated the settling in of the new M&S.com site has had an impact on sales. We are pleased that the womenswear business was in growth, driven by full price sales, in line with our increased focus on margin. Our food business had another great quarter, continuing to outperform the market, through our focus on differentiation through quality and innovation.”
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