The high street retail chain reported that its food business increased 3.4% on a like for like basis, outperforming its general merchandise business, which reported a 3.9% fall in sales for the 13 weeks to 2 April.
Overall, like for like sales remained flat, up just 0.1%.
The food business was driven by the launch of 320 new products during the quarter, promotions around Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day and the continuing Dine In meal offer, the retailer claims.
Its healthy food ranges ’Count on Us’ and ’Simply Fuller Longer’ reported a strong improvement in sales.
The retailer says it latest advertising campaign, starring Lisa Snowdon and Jamie Redknapp and focusing on M&S’s exclusive “Only at M&S” technologies, has had a “good start” and customers are responding well to its fashion trends.
Group sales increased 2.3% during the quarter while UK total sales were 1% up.
International sales increased 12.6% while its online business M&S Direct sales reported a 13.7% rise driven by the multi-channel “Shop your Way” proposition.
Marc Bolland, M&S chief executive says: “We had a good fourth quarter in a challenging trading environment. In times like these customers are increasingly turning to M&S for value, quality and innovation. Strong products backed by great advertising meant we outperformed the market and grew share in both Food and Clothing.”
He added that the plans outlined to grow its international business, which reported a 12.6% increase, while with a return to France, a design partnership with Sir Terence Conran and the appointment of former Tesco.com CEO Laura Wade-Gery will “continue to build momentum” for the chain.
Bolland expects the next 12 months to be “increasingly challenging” as high commodity prices puts pressure on disposable incomes.