M&S set for 11th quarter of decline in fashion sales

UNDER-pressure Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland is expected to unveil an 11th successive quarter of falling sales in its clothing division when the retailer updates on trading on Thursday.

Left to right, Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, model and designer Alex Wek, actress Emma Thompson, chef Rachel Khoo, and singers Annie Lennox and Rita Ora appear in the M&S leading ladies campaign, part of the chains efforts to improve its fortunes. Photograph: Annie Leibovitz

It will mean the chief executive, appointed in May 2010, has overseen nearly three straight years of declining quarterly like-for-like revenues in the retailer’s general merchandise arm – which includes fashion as well as homewares.

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Bolland said there had been “encouraging signs” at the last trading update, covering the 13 weeks to 28 December.

But a consensus average from six analysts forecasts a 1 per cent fall in the latest quarter, despite concerted attempts to turn around the retailer’s fortunes with new senior personnel and a celebrity marketing push.

At the last update, Bolland blamed unseasonably warm weather for a decline in sales.