Marks & Spencer has reported a like-for-like sales decline of 7.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 27, and announced plans to cut more than 1,200 jobs and close 27 stores.

General merchandise sales were down 8.9 per cent like for like and food sales down 5.2 per cent. Total sales were down 1.2 per cent but international and online sales grew strongly.

The company said it plans to slash its cost base by£175 million to£200 million by cutting 1,230 jobs, 780 in the stores and 450 at head office. The company also plans to make changes to its pension scheme.

27 stores are to close, 25 of which are small Simply Food units.

Executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose said the company had held market share in fashion and had improved performance in food, with a record trading day on December 23. He said the post-Christmas Sale had begun strongly.