Marks & Spencer has reported a dip in general merchandise like-for-likes but food sales held up.
In its fourth quarter to April 2, general merchandise like-for-likes were down 3.9%, while food was up 3.4%. Total like-for-likes were up 0.1%.
On an underlying basis, taking into account this quarter does not include the first five days of the Christmas sale which were included in the quarter last year, general merchandise like-for-likes were up 0.7% and food was up 3.4%. Total UK like-for-likes were up 2.2%.
Total reported UK sales were up 1%, general merchandise was down 3.4% and food was up 4.9%. Group sales were up 2.3%.
The retailer said general merchandise sales were in line with its expectations given the tough comparatives and the challenging trading conditions. It said it grew market share by 30bps to 11.6% with menswear and lingerie performing particularly strongly.
M&S said food market share was up 10bps to 3.8%. It launched more than 320 new products during the quarter, taking its total new lines launched last year to 1,900. Its healthy food ranges ‘Count on Us’ and ‘Simply Fuller Longer’ were its top meal brands in January.
International sales were up 12.6%, reflecting strong performances in most markets offset by difficult trading in Ireland and Greece. M&S Direct sales were up 13.7%.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “We had a good fourth quarter in a challenging trading environment. In times like these customers are increasingly turning to M&S for value, quality and innovation. Strong products backed by great advertising meant we outperformed the market and grew share in both Food and Clothing.”
The plans we laid out in November continue to build momentum, demonstrated by our collaboration in Home with Sir Terence Conran, our ‘bricks and clicks’ return to France, and, importantly, our ability to attract best in class talent.”
M&S said it expects trading conditions to be challenging due to the pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes and higher commodity prices. It is cautious on the outlook and will focus on remaining competitive.
It said it has now embarked on the first phase of its plan to develop M&S into a leading international multichannel retailer. Last week it revealed its return to France with stores and online.