In its latest trading update, for 13 weeks to 28 December, M&S has reported total group sales down 0.7%. But behind this the performance of its core UK business was stronger with like-for-like sale positive in the period; up 0.2%. Furthermore, the Food division proved the growth driver, with a market-beating +1.5% offsetting a 3.7% decline in its Clothing & Home sales.
Standout performance in the two-week Christmas period
In the period when the Kantar grocery market measure recorded growth of just +0.2%, M&S Food achieved like-for-like sales of +1.4%. And the business has flagged that the two key trading weeks around Christmas saw the Food division trading particularly strongly; supported by improving volumes, with customers responding positively to a more competitive value proposition (targeted through the Re-Marks-able value campaign) and more relevant product innovation.
Steve Rowe, Chief Executive, M&S commented:
'We delivered an improved performance in Q3 across both main businesses. The Food business continued to outperform the market and Clothing & Home had a strong start to the quarter, albeit this was followed by a challenging trading environment in the lead up to Christmas. As we drive a faster pace of change, disappointing one-off issues - notably waste and supply chain in the Food business, the shape of buy in Menswear and performance in our gifting categories - held us back from delivering a stronger result.'