Saturday 16 December 2017

Marks & Spencer beat forecasts for Christmas with first quarterly rise in nearly two years

Steve Rowe, the new CEO of the retail giant Photo: Adrian Brooks
Steve Rowe, the new CEO of the retail giant Photo: Adrian Brooks Business Desk Business Desk

Marks & Spencer soundly beat forecasts for Christmas trading as it reported its first quarterly rise in underlying clothing and homeware sales in nearly two years, delivering a boost to new boss Steve Rowe.

The British retailer's clothing & home like-for-like sales rose 2.3pc in the 13 weeks to December 31, beating market expectations of a 0.2pc rise, it said on Thursday, while food was up 0.6pc, also beating forecasts for a slight fall.

Chief Executive Rowe said customers had responded to "better ranges, better availability and better prices" in its clothes, while its "special and different" products helped it increase share in the food market in the festive period.

The numbers show Rowe's strategy of turning around its clothing business, which has struggled for five years, is gaining traction.

M&S's numbers were helped by the timing of the period, with an additional five days of the busy post-Christmas sale falling into the quarter.

It estimated timing had a positive effect of about 1.5pc on clothing & home sales and about 0.3pc on food.


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