Marks & Spencer’s like-for-like sales fell 1.8% over Christmas, when clothing sales slumped.

M&S chief executive Marc Bolland admitted that the general merchandise performance, which suffered a 3.8% like-for-like decline over the 13 weeks to December 29, is “not yet satisfactory”.

However, he said he was confident that steps taken by its new management team, led by John Dixon who took the reins of the struggling general merchandise division in October, will address this.

The retailer said the general merchandise market was “challenging and highly promotional” but it had focused on full-price sales with fewer but more targeted promotions.

M&S’s food like-for-likes were flat over the period, increasing just 0.3%. However, the retailer said it notched up record sales of nearly £330m in the two key Christmas trading weeks and outperformed the market by around 4%.

Total UK sales edged up 0.3% as total food sales rose 2.7% while general merchandise revenues dropped 2.2%.

M&S insisted that when New Year’s trading is taken into account, its like-for-likes were positive, up 0.9% in the 14 weeks to January 5.

The retailer claimed its spring season clothing, which launches in-store this week, has been “well received” by the fashion press. However, the first collection launched by the new fashion team, led by style director Belinda Earl, will not be in stores until the time of the autumn collection.

Multichannel sales jumped 10.8%, with and sales from mobile devices soaried 90%. The international business nudged up 4.1%.

Bolland said: Our plan is to transform Marks & Spencer from a traditional UK retailer to an international multichannel retailer. We are making good progress against this plan.”