Food will help Marks & Spencer post fourth quarter sales rise

Kasmira Jefford
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MARKS & SPENCER is expected to post a modest rise in fourth quarter sales tomorrow, as strong food sales help to offset more subdued growth at its general merchandising division.

Analysts predict Britain’s biggest clothing retailer, whose clothes are modelled by the ‘60s supermodel Twiggy, to reveal a 1.6 per cent lift in like-for-like food sales in the first three months of 2012.

Growth in sales of general merchandise – which includes its important womenswear division – are likely to remain flat at 0.2 per cent, an improvement on the 1.8 per cent fall in the last quarter.

The retail bellwether suffered a 13.3 per cent decline in Homewares sales in the run-up to Christmas after the company withdrew from the electricals market.M&S will report its full-year results in May, with a consensus of analysts predicting pre-tax profits of £697m, down 2.5 per cent on the previous year.

Chief executive Marc Bolland, who will also give guidance for 2013 in tomorrow’s update, is likely to point to higher profits for 2013 as it carries out a £600m revamp of its stores.