M&S addition to Christmas casualties after sales fall

The company overhaul remains on track says CEO Steve Rowe
The company overhaul remains on track says CEO Steve Rowe

Marks & Spencer has joined the list of retail Christmas casualtries after reporting further sales falls in its embattled clothing arm and food halls.

The retail bellwether said like-for-like clothing and home sales dropped 2.4% over the 13 weeks to December 29, while comparable food sales fell 2.1%.

But the group saw shares rise 2% as it stuck to full-year profit guidance in spite of an overall 2.2% drop in UK sales over the quarter.

The performance was worse than expected for its clothing and home division, but slightly better in food - and M&S insisted it was seeing some “encouraging early signs”.

CEO Steve Rowe said: “Against the backdrop of well-publicised difficult market conditions, our performance remained steady across the period.

“Our food business traded successfully over Christmas as customers responded to improved value.”

He added its widespread overhaul remains “on track”.

M&S had already braced the market for little improvement in sales over its third quarter.