M&S credits decision to curb promotions in clothing and home for stronger festive sales

M&S enjoyed a strong festive period bolstered by a rejuvenated clothing and home line and a growing uptake of its value food proposition.

M&SMarks & Spencer says its investment in clothing and home is starting to pay off as it reports strong sales across the Christmas period.

Clothing and home sales increased by 4.8% to £1.23bn over the 13-week festive period, and by 4.8% on a like-for-like basis.

M&S puts this performance down to a growth in average selling price as a result of “reduced promotions” year on year. It says that stock into sale reduced by 6% – although the initial cut was deeper as it looks to limit the length of its clearance sales.

CEO Stuart Machin says: “We delivered a good performance [in clothing and home] with sales growing ahead of the market and less stock going into sale. Womenswear has been the standout, growing volume and value significantly ahead of the market.”

M&S claims the strong performance of its womenswear range – which has seen improved customer perceptions of style, quality and value – also contributed to a 10.9% increase in online sales, another key focus for brand.

Anna Braithwaite, M&S’s marketing director for clothing and home, told Marketing Week last year that the brand had “lost its way” when it came to style and needed to find the sweet spot between style, quality and value to see growth – signing up actress Sienna Miller to help it boost perceptions.

“We had absolutely lost our way. The brand, the product, the value, the quality, it’s been a really tricky journey,” she said.

‘We absolutely lost our way’: M&S’s marketing director on finding its ‘sweet spot’

Overall, across both food and clothing and home, sales in the UK increased by 8.5% to £3.56bn, up 8.1% on a like-for-like basis.

Food sales increased by 10.5% to £2.33bn with like-for-like sales up 9.9%. Its ‘Remarksable’ value range, in particular, showed promising growth of 18% as the brand continues to invest in its value proposition.

M&S CEO Machin says the results show its strategy to “reshape M&S for growth” has enabled sustained sales momentum across both food and clothing and home over the period. He says its “commitment to trusted value – unbeatable M&S quality at the best possible price” is paying off for the business.

He claims more customers are looking to M&S for a “full shop”, adding the clothing and home division grew value “significantly” ahead of the market, delivering “an increase in full price sales mix and our highest full price market share for over a decade”.

He adds: “We are determined to deliver our objective of driving 1% growth in market share in both businesses and to up the pace of our transformation: keeping a relentless focus on trusted value; accelerating our store rotation and renewal plans; doubling down on our supply chain programmes to improve availability and lower costs; and resetting our data, digital and technology strategy to unlock benefits in future year.”