M&S slows fall in clothing sales


Marks & Spencer.

Sales at Marks and Spencer’s clothing and home division fell at a slower rate than before in the first quarter, the retailer has said.

M&S said like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of new store space, fell by 1.2% at the division in the three months to 1 July.

This compares with a 5.9% fall in the final quarter of its financial year.

Group like-for-like sales fell by 0.5% and chief executive Steve Rowe said trading was in line with expectations.

He said that during the three months, the retailer had grown full price sales for clothing and home, adding that M&S had reduced discounting and did not have to hold a clearance sale during the period.

However, like-for-like food sales dipped by 0.1% – which was worse than expected – and without Easter falling in April, comparable revenue across the UK business would have declined further.

M&S said that the timing of Easter this year lifted food sales by 0.7% and clothing and home trade by 0.6% in the quarter.

In total, sales across the business, including its international operation, increased by 2.7% to £2.5bn.

The retailer released the figures ahead of its annual general meeting on Tuesday where Robert Swannell will give his final address to shareholders as chairman.

Mr Swannell has served in the role since 2011. He will be succeeded by Archie Norman on 1 September.