// Marks & Spencer food sales rise while clothing and home sales drop during Christmas
// Online clothes sales were lower than expected
// International sales fell 2.3% to £251 million
Marks & Spencer has reported a “disappointing” Christmas trading period despite its food division making a “standout” performance.
UK food revenue grew 1.5 per cent to £1.7 billion in the three months to the end of December.
However, sales in the clothing and home division fell 2.7 per cent to £1.1 billion in the third quarter.
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Online clothes sales were lower than expected, with revenue in the UK edging up by 1.5 per cent.
The retailer said it had to deal with competitors offering discounts to customers, and less furniture being dispatched.
Meanwhile, UK revenue grew a mere 0.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
International sales fell 2.3 per cent to £251 million.
“The food business continued to outperform the market, and clothing and home had a strong start to the quarter, albeit this was followed by a challenging trading environment in the lead-up to Christmas,” M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said.
He added that “disappointing one-off issues” such as waste in the food business and the performance of its gifts range “held M&S back from delivering a stronger result”.
On a call with reporters, Rowe said that although customers purchased a lot of M&S food, “we bought more than we sold”, but he promised that no food waste went to landfill.
M&S stuck to its guidance, but warned that gross margins are likely to be at the lower end of expectations.
with PA Wires