All eyes on M&S clothing - and its chief executive Steve Rowe - as the retailer unveils its latest results collection later this week

Tracey Boles
M&S (Source: Getty)

Marks & Spencer's beleaguered clothing division could finally be on the up, with sales growth expected by some analysts when the high street behemoth reveals its third quarter results this week.

On 12 January, M&S will reveal its third quarter to 31 December. Analysts are on average forecasting like-for-like sales growth in its clothing and home division of 0.2 percent with underlying sales in its food business down 0.4 percent. However, analyst predictions vary wildly.

A lift in clothing sales would represent a sharp turnaround on the second quarter's 2.9 percent fall and would be only the second time in 23 quarters that M&S has grown sales in the general merchandise side for the business. It would provide some encouragement to investors that the turnaround plan of chief executive Steve Rowe is getting traction.

“M&S performed so poorly in clothing and homewares through the third quarter last year, we see a good possibility that the division reports a small positive like-for-like outcome this week,” said Andrew Wade at Numis.

Primark owner Associated British Foods could also see a return to form, posing a 2 per cent rise in like-for-like sales on the back of demand for cheap knitwear.

Updates due this week from a raft of other UK retailers, including from department stores John Lewis and Debenhams, will also shine a light on the outlook for the sector.

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