Marks & Spencer has said customers are “returning to quality” as it reported like-for-like UK sales up 5.3% in its second quarter.
In the 13 weeks to October 2, UK general merchandise like-for-likes were up 7% and food was up 3.7%. Total UK sales were up 6.5% with general merchandise up 8%, comprising clothing up 7.8% and home up 9.3%, while food was up 5.2%. Total group sales were up 6.5%.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “Marks & Spencer has had a good second quarter, growing market share across all parts of the business. Customers are returning to quality. In food they are responding well to our better value and innovation, and in clothing are increasingly choosing M&S’s great fashions and quality that lasts.”
M&S remained cautious on the outlook though, saying “trading conditions ahead are likely to become more challenging”. It said disposable income will come under greater pressure from increased VAT rates and public spending cuts.
Its clothing market share was up 70bps to 10.3%. It said it improved fit and quality and introduced new products such as its ‘2 sizes bigger’ bra and ‘miracle’ crease resistant linen. It said customers are returning to quality in areas such as men’s suits and knitwear.
The latest advertising campaign has “driven more customers into our stores” it said, delivering for example a record autumn season on women’s footwear.
Food market share was up 10bps to 3.7%. It said more customers chose to shop at M&S in the quarter “attracted by our improved value and continued investment in innovation”. It launced 370 new products, including additions to its ready meal, grocery and biscuit ranges.
M&S Direct reported sales up 49%. Its multichannel ordering system has been rolled out to 434 stores.
International sales were up 6.2%, but trading conditions remain difficult in Ireland and Greece, it said.
M&S also said it is facing increased commodity prices and significantly tougher comparatives in the second half.