M&S beats expectations

Marks & Spencer has outperformed expectations and reported a 5% sales rise in the final trading update before Sir Stuart Rose hands over to new CEO Marc Bolland.

M&S saw a 4.8% like-for-like sales increase in the three months to 13 weeks to 27 March, boosted by promotions over the Christmas period and strong demand for footwear and formalwear.

Food sales were up 1.8% while general merchandise was up 9.1 during the period.

M&S Direct, the online arm of the business saw a 48% sales increase during the quarter boosted by the expansion of “Shop Your Way”, M&S’s multi-channel ordering service.

Sir Stuart expects full-year pre-tax profit to be in the range of £620m to £630m and says staff at the retail chain will share an £80m bonus pot.

Sir Stuart says: “These are strong quarterly results by any measure. They demonstrate the appeal of the M&S brand to our 21 million weekly customers and its resilience in these difficult times.”

He adds that he expects the next year to remain challenging but hopes that after the election there will be “greater clarity on economic policy” which will bring improved consumer confidence.

Sir Stuart will stand down from his role as CEO and become non-executive chairman on July 31. He will leave the retail chain in March 2011.

Bolland, former chief executive of the Morrisons supermarket chain, will take over as CEO of M&S on May 1.

M&S revealed a new marketing strategy and new advertising strapline two weeks ago. Dannii Minogue will star among others alongside Twiggy in the chain’s advertising.

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