Marks and Spencer has reported a 1.2% increase in fashion sales for the 13 weeks to March 28, breaking a cycle of 14 consecutive quarters in decline.
The improvement, which saw like-for-like fashion sales edging up by 0.6%, was credited to better “product quality and styling”.
General merchandise sales were up 1.3% for the period.
The high street retailer said the spring range had been well received by customers.
During the quarter M&S promoted less and focused more on full-price sales. However, this was offset by more stock going into the Christmas Sale as a result of the warm autumn.
Gross margin guidance for the full year remains unchanged at +150 to +200bps.
M&S.com sales were back in growth, up 13.8% for the period.
Marc Bolland, M&S chief executive, said: “We have made strong progress over the quarter. In food we delivered another excellent performance, with sales growth ahead of the market. We continued to deliver on general merchandise gross margin and are pleased that we have achieved this while also improving general merchandise sales. Marksandspencer.com has returned to growth, as planned, with further improvement in customer metrics.”