Marks & Spencer has reported a 6% surge in general merchandise like-for-likes in the first quarter, when the retailer wooed clothing shoppers with “improved styling, stronger fashions and great value.”

Total UK like-for-likes advanced 3.6%.The retailer reported market share gains in all clothing categories and said its market share was up 50 basis points to 10.7%. Summer knitwear and holiday ranges performed especially well.

Food like-for-likes advanced 1.5% in the period to July 3 as M&S focused on product innovation and ran promotions.

Chief executive Marc Bolland was cautious about prospects, however. He said: “We have made a good start to the financial year but following the recent Budget and the action proposed to reduce the national deficit, including the increase in VAT, we are cautious about the outlook for consumer confidence and spending.”

Total group sales rose 4.4% and in the core UK market turnover climbed by 4.8%. Clothing sales increased by 7.4% and home by 4.1%, bringing the general merchandise total to 7%. Food was up by 2.9%.

M&S Direct sales climbed by 49%. International sales were hit by currency effects and tough trading conditions in some markets and only edged up 0.9%.

Ambrian analyst Philip Dorgan described the update was “pleasing” and said: “M&S has significant sales and margin recovery potential.”