Marks & Spencer reported an improvement in UK sales in its first quarter, buoyed by its 125th anniversary campaign and the timing of Easter.

For the 13 weeks to June 27, UK sales at Marks & Spencer were up 1.7 per cent. UK like-for-like sales were down 1.4 per cent, with general merchandise down 2.4 per cent and food down 0.5 per cent.

Online sales were up 28 per cent and international sales were up 15.9 per cent. Group sales were up 2.9 per cent.

Executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose said: “We are pleased with the improving trend in our performance. This demonstrates that the actions we are taking are working. Customers have responded well to our initiatives particularly our 125th anniversary campaign, and recently voted as the UK’s most trusted retail brand.

“Consumer confidence appears to be stabilising. However, we remain cautious about the outlook for the remainder of this and next year and will continue to run the business accordingly.”

Marks & Spencer said clothing market share was up 30bps, with improved performance in all areas of the business. It said home sales continued to outperform the market, and in food, it said it has taken action to improve value, availability and product innovation.

Singer analyst Matthew McEachran said: “UK sales were considerably better than in the preceding periods, with the benefits of internal self help, its 125th anniversary campaign, seasonal weather and the timing of Easter all coming into play against a weak comparative from last year.”

He added: “They remain cautious about prospects for the remainder of the year though and there is still no detail surrounding its ‘2020 – Doing the Right Thing’ strategy.”

Rose faces shareholder rebellion at next week’s AGM over his dual role.