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Sir Stuart Rose points to M&S consumer confidence boost

Marks & Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose has signalled a rebound in consumer confidence and said the chain had seen a resurgence in customers’ appetite for higher-price points.

Speaking at M&S’s full-year results on Tuesday, Rose gave the example that two years ago M&S’s fastest-selling suit was £199. During the recession that fell to £100 but Rose added that spending was back on the rise.

He said: “The fastest-selling suit this season is the £249 suit, which is a good indicator that the product is right and confidence is returning.”

Rose added that M&S had also seen a return in spending by the 55-plus female shopper, a category of customer that felt the effects of the recession early.

He said the 55-plus customer was spending on its Per Una range in particular and added that the sub-brand was “back on track”.

Cotton and commodity prices rises won’t impact Britain’s largest clothing retailer, said Rose.

“We’ve got the muscle to remain as competitive as we have been in the last five years,” he said.

M&S increased its clothing market share by value across all categories by 30 basis points to 11% in the year to March 28. It held volume share at 11.2%.

Currently third by value market share in the kidswear sector, M&S is gunning to overtake rivals George at Asda and Next.

M&S posted a 4.6% rise in full-year pre-tax profits to £632.5m in the year to March 27, on group sales up 3.2% to £9.3bn in the year. Total UK like-for-likes jumped 0.9%.

Sales in M&S’s general merchandise division, which includes clothing, increased by 4% in the 52 weeks to March 27. Within that, clothing reported a 4.3% sales rise.

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