Commenting on the results, Marc Bolland, Chief Executive said, “We delivered another quarter of improvement in general merchandise. Clothing sales were up 1.3 per cent in total, up 0.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis. We are encouraged by women’s wear, which is showing clear signs of improvement and performed ahead of clothing.”
In clothing, following a better performance over Christmas, company’s women’s wear business continued to strengthen, delivering a good like-for-like sales performance during the quarter. Sales of M&S collection in women’s wear, which was re-launched last autumn, were notably up on last year.
Company also completed the migration of its website from Amazon to its new platform during the quarter. Despite this major change, M&S.com delivered a good performance with total sales going up 12.5 percent. Group plans to launch a new external marketing campaign to promote the site, this May.
The international business continued to perform well. Priority markets delivered a strong performance with strong growth in India, in flagship stores in China and in the Gulf. Performance in Western Europe was positive with good improvement in Greece and Czech.
Company expects second half general merchandise gross margin to be down, in line with the first half of the year. As a result, it expects the full year UK gross margin to be down c. 20 bps. Marks and Spencer Group will report its full year results May 20, 2014.