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Marks & Spencer first quarter clothing sales rise 7.4%

Marks & Spencer has reported a 7.4% climb in clothing sales in the first quarter as the retailer wooed clothing shoppers with “improved styling, stronger fashions and great value”.

Overall like-for-like sales of general merchandise, which includes clothing sales, rose 6% surge in the 13 weeks to July 3.

Total UK like-for-likes advanced 3.6%.The retailer reported market share gains in all clothing categories and said its market share was up 50 basis points to 10.7% in the 12 weeks to May 23, according to data from TNS Worldpanel Fashion. Summer knitwear and holiday ranges performed especially well.

Chief executive Marc Bolland was cautious about prospects, however. He said: “We have made a good start to the financial year but following the recent Budget and the action proposed to reduce the national deficit, including the increase in VAT, we are cautious about the outlook for consumer confidence and spending.”

Total group sales rose 4.4% and in the core UK market turnover climbed by 4.8%.

M&S Direct sales climbed by 49%. International sales were hit by currency effects and tough trading conditions in some markets and only edged up 0.9%.

Ambrian analyst Philip Dorgan described the update as “pleasing” and said: “M&S has significant sales and margin recovery potential.”

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