RETAIL icon Marks and Spencer continued to show signs of rude health this morning after a Christmas trading update revealed it had enjoyed a bumper festive period.
Like for like sales across the firm were up some 7.2 per cent in the third quarter – which includes the vital Christmas trading period.
The once-troubled retailer was turned around by former CEO Steve Rowe, who stepped down in May to be replaced by Stuart Machin.
The clothing and home category saw a 7.2 per cent bump from this time last year, with revenues across the group totalling £3.6bn, £3.3bn of which came from the UK.
M&S confirmed it maintained its position as the nation’s leading turkey retailer, a title it has now held for three years.
It saw a record Christmas trading day on December 23, with £80m coming through the tills.
The firm confirmed it was continuing “action to structurally reduce costs” as part of what it calls the “M&S Reshaped” programme.
A new value line, ‘Remarksable Value,’ had seen strong growth with its products now featuring in over 20 per cent of baskets, the retailer said.
“M&S Food outperformed the market on volume and value in the critical four-week Christmas period for the second year running and reached its highest ever recorded market share. Clothing and Home delivered another outstanding performance, maintaining its market leadership position with its highest market share in seven years,” said Machin this morning.
“This outperformance was driven by M&S doing what it does best; exceptional product at value you can trust. Thanks to our unrivalled quality, innovation and growing style credentials, more customers shopped with M&S over the Christmas period than in recent years. I would like to thank all our colleagues for the fantastic service they delivered,” he continued.
John Coldham, a retail partner at law firm Gowling, said M&S’ results gave investors reason for confidence.
“The newly appointed chief executive, Stuart Machin, will be hoping to continue Steve Rowe’s positive work with the company and its recent acquisition of a fashion personalisation website which collapsed into administration.
“This provides a new offering to customers in order to drive further sales in the clothing space. Plans to streamline its store programme to reduce costs should also make M&S more resilient and signs that its clothing and home operations are showing signs of recovery will be welcome news to investors,” he said after the update was published this morning.