M&S reveals further fall in clothing sales

High street retailer Marks & Spencer today reported a continued decline in clothing sales, although the group said margins at the business were improving.

While M&S said like-for-like food sales edged up 0.3 per cent in the first quarter, takings from general merchandise – which includes fashion and furnishings – were down 0.4 per cent, having slid by 3.1 per cent last year.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “We continue to make progress against our key priorities. Our food business did very well in a difficult market.

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“In general merchandise, sales were broadly level on last year and we are on track to deliver the planned increase in gross margin. M&S.com performance was very strong, with customers appreciating all the improvements to our website.”

Overall, like-for-like sales at the firm – which will kick off a £150 million share buyback programme tomorrow – were flat for the 13 weeks to 27 June as general merchandise offset the rise in food.