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M&S's Q4 sales beat expectations as it gains clothing market share

Marks & Spencer has posted a 5.1% increase in fourth quarter like-for-like sales, well above expectations, driven by a strong performance from its non-food categories, including clothing.

In the 13 weeks to March 27, non-food sales were up 9.1% like for like, 2.9% of which was accounted for by the timing of the Christmas Sale, while food was up 1.8%.

Marks & Spencer said clothing market share was up 110 basis points to 11.9%, with formalwear and knitwear especially strong performers.

Total group sales were up 4.8%, while total UK sales were up 6.2%, although this figure too was inflated by the timing of the Sale which added 1.3%.

Direct sales were up 48% but international sales were down 5.9% due to trading conditions in Ireland and Greece and currency fluctuations.

Profits are expected to come in between £620m and £630m, and staff are to share a bonus pool of £80m due to the better than expected performance.

“These are strong quarterly results by any measure,” said executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose. “The contining improvement in our performance is the result of the actions we have taken to invest in our stores, service, product and values. In clothing we have seen a substantial increase in market share.”

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