M&S gloomy on outlook for retailers

MARKS and Spencer is seeing its market share grow with sales nudging up but warned of a tough road ahead for the retail sector.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said that the freshening up of product lines had fuelled sales growth, with healthy eating ranges proving particularly successful in its food halls.

Like-for-like UK sales excluding VAT in the 13 weeks to 2 July rose 1.7 per cent. The growth came exclusively from food sales.

Non-food like-for-like sales saw zero growth – an improvement on the 3.9 per cent fall in the previous quarter.

The retailer said it had raised its UK market share slightly in both the food and clothing sectors.

Bolland said: “Our healthy eating range, which you would not normally associate with M&S, has been doing extremely well.

“In clothing our dress sales are strong because we are offering the right product at the right price.”

In the clothing sector, its market share rose from 11.5 per cent to 11.7 per cent – its 17th consecutive month of market share gain.

But the company warned that the remainder of the summer would see tough trading as the British consumer remained under pressure.

Bolland added: “It is a challenging environment we have always said that.”

International sales jumped 7.8 per cent, while M&S Direct sales – which include online – were up 13 per cent.