Marks & Spencer sales continue to tumble

Marks & Spencer has recorded its twelfth consecutive quarter of declining like-for-like clothing sales.

The company said like-for-like sales for clothing fell 0.6% over the first quarter. Overall clothing sales were up 0.1%.

“We have seen a continued improvement in clothing, although as anticipated the settling in of the new M&S.com site has had an impact on sales,” said chief executive Marc Bolland.

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“We are pleased that the womenswear business was in growth, driven by full price sales, in line with our increased focus on margin. Our Food business had another great quarter, continuing to outperform the market, through our focus on differentiation through quality and innovation.”

The company said that it is continuing to see progress as customers increasingly buy into the improvements it has made to quality and style. “In line with our increased focus on margin, we were less promotional, both online and in stores. While this has affected the sales performance, particularly online, we are on track to deliver our full year gross margin guidance,” the company said.

General merchandise sales were also impacted by the settling in of the new .com site, which saw sales decline 8.1% over the quarter. While the company said the new web platform has been “technically resilient” and it has received positive customer feedback on the new fashion and style content, it is now “focused on optimising the website commercially”.

The company expects to return to growth ahead of its peak trading period.

Overall sales increased 2.3%, while UK sales increased 2%, rising 0.3% on a like-for-like basis.

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