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M&S sales continue to slide in non food products

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MARKS & SPENCER posted a seventh consecutive quarterly fall in non-food products today.

Products like clothing, footware and homewares fell by 3.8 in the first three months of the year, a slightly less steep decline than the 4-6pc expected by Reuters analysts.

However food sales were up 4pc, higher than expected and a better performance than the 0.3pc rise seen in the previous quarter.

The food division, which had a record Easter week, benefited from season-specific products like Belgian chocolate mini hot cross buns of which it sold more than 600,000 packs, and from M&S being untainted by the horsemeat scandal that has impacted some of its rivals.

Still, altogether sales were up 0.6pc.

Marc Bolland, chief executive of the 129-year-old retailer which has recently been the subject of takeover speculation, is under pressure to revive its clothing performance after a poor 2012 culminated in a disappointing Christmas.

However he has repeatedly cautioned that a new non-food management team will not make a major impact on sales until M&S launches its autumn/winter collections in July.

Many UK retailers are finding the going tough as consumers fret over job security and a squeeze on incomes.

M&S's update chimed with an industry survey on Tuesday which said growth in UK retail sales slowed last month despite a boost from an early Easter, as cold weather hurt demand for summer clothes and shoes.

Last month fashion retailer Next reported slow trading since the beginning of February, while department store chain Debenhams issued a profit warning, blaming January snow.

British baby and maternity products retailer Mothercare also posted flat UK sales for the last quarter today.

Altogether sales were up 0.6pc.

Online Editors