M&S reports smaller sales dip

Marks and Spencer has reported a smaller than expected drop in sales in its first quarter figures, compared to last year.

Marks and Spencer

UK sales fell by 1.4% overall, with general merchandise, which includes clothing and homewares, falling by the most at 2.4% and food dropping off by 0.5%.

The 125 year old high street chain says because Easter fell in a warm and sunny April, sales were boosted by 0.7% this year in both food and other merchandise.

Chief executive and executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose says consumer confidence “appears to be stabilising” but the retailer “remains cautious about the outlook for the remainder of this and next year.”

M&S has struggled to cope as shoppers have cut spending in reaction to the recession, but, like rival supermarket chains it has introduced cheaper ranges and promotions such as Dine in for £10 over Christmas and Valentines to drive sales.

However it has vowed to slash its marketing spend this year after reporting in May its profits crashed 37.5% in the year to March

The initiatives mean it is in a much stronger position than 12 months ago when it was forced to issue a profit warning. It is unclear however whether the improved figures are enough to help Stuart Rose evade a second shareholder rebellion over his controversial dual role at the company’s annual general meeting next week.

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