Retail news round-up November 5, 2013: British retail sales rise, Marks & Spencer records first-half profit falland Austin Reed posts pre-tax profit fall

British retail sales growth slightly better in October

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has reported that British retail sales grew slightly more strongly in October 2013 than in September 2013 driven by growth in sales from video games, gadgets and homewares.

According to the BRC, total retail sales rose by 2.6% in the year to October, up from September’s 2.4% but well below the average of more than 3% seen between May and August.

Like-for-like retail sales grew just 0.8%, up from 0.7% in September.

Marks & Spencer posts sales and profit fall

Marks & Spencer has reported a fall in underlying pre-tax profits in the first half to £261.6m from £287.3m last year.

Group sales rose 3.6% in the 26 weeks ended 28 September 2013 to £4.9bn.

However, general merchandise like-for-likes fell 1.3% in the second quarter and 1.5% in the half as chief executive Marc Bolland battles to turnaround its womenswear business.

Like-for-like sales in its food division rose 2.5% in the half.

Austin Reed reports pre-tax profit fall

Austin Reed grew like-for-like sales by 5.2% in its last financial year as the retailer fought back from a challenging period since the recession.

Austin Reed’s sales fell by 2% to £113m in the year to January 2013, while pre-tax profit dropped from £7.6m to £1.8m, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Its online sales surged by 43% during the year, The Telegraph reported.

Austin Reed, which has 267 stores and concessions in the UK, said that sales dropped because of the closure of loss-making stores.