Results bolstered by Easter
Marks & Spencer's resurgence continued as it revealed underlying sales rose for the fourth consecutive quarter.

Total UK sales rose 10.4 per cent for the 13 weeks to July 1. General merchandise sales were up 11.7 per cent and food sales rose 9.2 per cent. UK like-for-like sales were up 8.2 per cent - like-for-likes were up 10.5 per cent for general merchandise and 5.8 per cent for food.

The inclusion of Easter in first-quarter trading added about 0.8 per cent to both food and general merchandise.

M&S continues to grow its food and general merchandise market share. For the 12 weeks to May 28, clothing and footwear gained 0.7 percentage points, rising to 10 per cent, compared with 9.3 per cent last year. Food was up 0.6 per cent at 4.1 per cent, against 3.5 per cent last year.

Chief executive Stuart Rose said: 'This is an encouraging performance, albeit against soft comparatives last year. Despite the challenging trading environment, we are confident we can continue to drive the business profitably.'

Charles Stanley analyst Jeremy Bastone said: 'Mr Rose continues, rightly, to refuse to use the 'R' word [Recovery].M&S has yet to hit its first set of demanding comparatives. This is a point which should be reached during H2 2006 and which should provide the first really demanding test for the business.'

Rose said the company would continue to focus on improving product and service and refurbishing its store portfolio.

At present, 42 stores are being revamped and the company will be creating 4,000 new jobs due to extra demand and new space.

Paul Myners will step down as chairman at the AGM later today. He will be replaced by Lord Burns.

Earlier this year, Marks & Spencer revealed annual pre-tax profits up 47 per cent to£745.7 million, compared with£505.5 million the previous year.