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M&S ‘still has work to do’

Marks & Spencer conceded that it still had work to do on its clothing offer this week, as it reported a 4.8% drop in like-for-like sales of general merchandise for the quarter ended March 28.

Executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose said the strength of the high street retailer’s fashion offer, although improved, was still uneven. He said: “We’ve got a lot of work to do on womenswear on the casual side. We need to sharpen it up. The formalwear is strong, kidswear is great, and footwear and accessories are doing particularly well.”

However, Rose said although market share had fluctuated, M&S had maintained overall market share across the group.“The women’s and men’s market is very tough but broadly speaking we’re maintaining market share. Kate Bostock [executive fashion director] has a difficult job to balance market share in all the sectors. It goes up and down but if we’ve lost a bit in men’s we’ve gained in kids’ which is the highest for seven years.”

Rose said the Portfolio sub-brand introduced in February and aimed at 45-plus women, had been well received. Top-selling items included a circle-hem skirt and linen dress.

Total UK sales at M&S were down 0.3%. Total UK clothing sales fell 1% over the period.

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