Marks & Spencer has reported another fall in sales after shunning discounts and seeing shopper demand hit by poor weather.
The high street chain announced a 1.2% drop in like-for-like sales in its general merchandise sector, which includes lingerie, clothing, beauty and childrenswear, over the six months to September 26.
Unseasonal conditions, together with the retailer’s decision to focus on full price sales, impacted performance.
However, its refusal to discount drove profits to rise 6% in the first half of the year.
Marks & Spencer CEO Marc Bolland said: “We delivered good underlying profit growth in the first half and made strong progress against our key priorities. Our Food business again outperformed the market by over 3% points as our focus on quality and innovation continues to set us apart.
“In General Merchandise we decided to improve profitability by focusing on gross margin, delivering another significant increase, which in part resulted in slightly lower sales. As a consequence of good performance and strong cash generation we have decided to increase our dividend.”