M&S out of fashion over Christmas

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High street stalwart Marks & Spencer suffered a slump in sales in its core clothing business over Christmas.

The group, which has been battling to revive its image as a fashion house, said the three months to 27 December had been a “difficult quarter” for general merchandise. Sales were down 5.4 per cent, or 5.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

The firm’s increasingly popular food halls helped make up some of the shortfall. Food sales were sales 2.8 per cent higher compared to a year ago, although the difference was marginal when extra space was taken into account.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “M&S had a very good Christmas in food. We delivered record Christmas sales, strongly outperforming the market.

“We had a difficult quarter in general merchandise, dominated by unseasonal conditions and an unsatisfactory performance in our e-commerce distribution centre. We maintained our focus on general merchandise gross margin, with guidance unchanged.”