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Marks & Spencer chases kidswear and footwear sales rise

Marks & Spencer is targeting higher sales of kidswear and footwear after reporting a better-than-expected first half in which the retailer increased its overall market share by value.

Executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose said he hoped M&S could claim the number two position in kidswear sales by value “if we keep pushing hard”. At present it is in third place behind Next and George at Asda.

M&S has being doing “particularly well” in footwear, said Rose - it has been having its best-ever season for boots in autumn 09, selling 330,000 pairs to date.

Rose said M&S would continue to appeal to clothing shoppers with a “catalogue of real choice, not proliferation” as it focused on eliminating duplication.

General merchandise director Kate Bostock said duplication had been an issue particularly following the greater integration into the mainline of womenswear own brand Per Una, and that she aimed to deliver a 10% reduction in the number of options offered. She said she had identified an “opportunity” in footwear. M&S has a 5.5% market share by value in women’s footwear but is second only to Clarks.

In the first half to September 26, M&S’s clothing market share by value rose 10 basis points to 10.1% while volume was level at 10.5%.

During the period, womenswear own brand launches such as Portfolio and Indigo complemented its existing offer and broadened the customer base, M&S reported.

M&S generated flat first-half profits of £298.3m on sales up 2.8% to £4.3bn. UK like-for-likes fell 0.9%.

Rose added that he thought customer confidence had improved. “We intend to trade full-price through to Christmas,” he said.

l Next chief executive Simon Wolfson said its branded sportswear shop-in-shop trials had performed well so far and up to 20 could be rolled out in the next six months. Like-for-like sales at Next dropped 1.3% in the 12 weeks to October 31. Total retail sales were up 3.1% and Next Directory sales rose 5.1%.

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