M&S sales surge ahead
Marks & Spencer today announced a bigger-than-expected rise in like-for-like sales of 5.3pc in the second quarter of its financial year.
The retail chain beat City expectations in the 13 weeks to October 2, with general merchandise sales up 7pc and food sales ahead 3.7pc.
The retailer said its latest advertising campaign had driven customers to its stores and helped boost its clothing market share to 10.3pc, but warned the increased marketing would lead to operating costs at the top end of forecasts.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said: "Marks & Spencer has had a good second quarter, growing market share across all parts of the business."
He added that customers were "returning to quality" but warned that trading conditions are likely to become more challenging as disposable incomes come under greater pressure from increased VAT and spending cuts.
Mr Bolland added: "We are facing increased commodity prices and significantly tougher comparatives in the second half. As a result we remain cautious about the outlook for the remainder of this year and next."
The new chief executive joined M&S in May, having led a turnaround of supermarket Morrisons during his tenure there.
The Dutchman is expected to outline his strategy for the retailer in November when the company presents its half-year results.
The update follows largely positive trading reports from supermarkets Tesco and Sainsbury's earlier in the week.
Tesco posted a 12.5pc rise in half-year profits to £1.6bn and UK like-for-like sales growth of 1.3pc in the second quarter, while Sainsbury's saw accelerated sales growth of 2.9pc in the same period.
M&S said a "record" autumn season on women's footwear helped boost clothing sales, while there was also strong demand for men's suits and knitwear.
The company said food market share was up slightly to 3.7pc, driven by 370 new products, including ready meal and biscuit ranges, as well as its "Dine In" and "3 for £10" offers.
The online shopping division M&S Direct saw sales shoot up by 49pc in the quarter, and international sales were up 6.2pc, though trading conditions remain difficult in Ireland and Greece.