Marks & Spencer food sales up 1.8% in third quarter

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Marks & Spencer: record food sales in 23 December 2010

Marks & Spencer’s like-for-like food sales rose 1.8% in the 13 weeks to 1 January 2011 with record sales of £50m on 23 December 2010.

Total UK sales increased by 4%, with clothing up 4.7%, home up 2.7% and food up 3.5%.

Marks & Spencer said adverse weather conditions had impacted reported food sales by approximately 1%. Clothing and home sales had been hit by approximately 3% but this was offset by a similar positive boost to sales from the inclusion of the first five days of the sale in the third quarter.

Reporting Kantar data for the 12 weeks to 28 November 2010, Marks & Spencer said its food market share had increased to 3.9%, driven by quality products and offering value.

The retailer launched more than 600 new products during the quarter, including its Christmas desserts and party foods. Bigger, impactful promotions, such as its deals of the week and half price Champagne, were particularly popular, it said.

Marc Bolland, chief executive, said: “Marks & Spencer traded well through the important Christmas period despite the severe weather as customers continued to return to M&S quality.

“We delivered a great Christmas for our customers, from our stylish occasionwear to our innovative festive food. I would like to thank all our employees, in particular the store and operations teams, for doing a wonderful job in very difficult conditions to minimise the disruption to our customers.”

M&S Direct sales were up 25% in the quarter and international sales were up 4.5%.

Marks & Spencer said it expected trading conditions ahead to be more challenging as consumers’ disposable incomes come under pressure from increased VAT rates and the impact of public spending cuts.

In addition, the retailer said it is facing increased commodity prices and tougher comparatives.