STAFF at Marks & Spencer will be handed an £80m bonus pot after the retailer ended the year with better-than-expected same store sales of 5.1 per cent in the UK.
The figures were fuelled by the unseasonally cold weather which saw a massive jump in the sake of woollens.
M&S said that total like-for-like sales rose 4.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to 27 March.
In his last statement before handing over the reins of the company to former Morrisons boss Marc Bolland, Sir Stuart Rose yesterday heaped praise on his staff and the “self help” which he said had driven the company forward.
The company’s food sales rose 1.8 per cent in the UK where the company is in a war against Waitrose for customers.
However, international sales slumped by 5.9 per cent – dragged down by economic woes in Ireland and Greece where the company has stores.
Around 50,000 of M&S staff are customer assistants, who will receive between £200 and £500 each depending on hours worked.
Shares dropped 1.5 per cent, or 5.6p after analysts expressed concern over how the company planned to further improve the performance of its food section.
Sir Stuart said: “We have weathered the immediate impact of the recession but remain cautious about the outlook for 2010/11 given the current challenging environment.”
He added: “In clothing we have seen a substantial increase in market share and in food we have had six consecutive quarters of improving like-for-like performance. We hope that after the election there will be greater clarity on economic policy.”
Bolland takes over from Rose in May.