M&S post sales resurgence over Christmas period

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For the quarter ended 31 December, revenue increased 5.9%, or 4.3% on a constant currency basis, compared to a year ago, while the clothing and home business was up 3.1%, of which about 1.5% was due to a shift in the reporting period, and like-for-like sales rose 2.3%.

Meanwhile, Britain's largest retailer, Tesco - which has been fighting for market share with cut-price rivals Aldi and Lidl - reported a 0.7 per cent rise in like-for-like sales in the seven weeks to January 7 for its domestic market, beating analyst forecasts according to Reuters.

M&S shares were up 1.8% at 346.50 pence on Thursday following the announcement, having jumped around 8.0% just after the open.

The good news from retailers this week continued today with Marks & Spencer and Tesco reporting better than expected clothing and home sales. The group said it will work to build up more-robust customer insight data to better tailor its offering to consumer and will cut promotional activity and the number of ranges in Clothing & Home. "Our Simply Food store pipeline remains strong".

The M&S chief executive, Steve Rowe, said "better ranges, better availability and better prices" had helped it improve its performance in a hard marketplace. It's food arm also reportedly rose by 0.6 per cent.

The group's worldwide arm saw sales lift 2.9% on a constant currency basis.

Chief executive Steve Rowe, who took the reins at the high street retailer a year ago, attributed the upbeat numbers to better availability and better prices, as well to the company's move to substantially reduce discounting, including over Black Friday. "We expect the shares to continue to underperform".

Global sales surged by 52 per cent, as Asos benefitted from the weak pound.

Mr Rowe did warn that its next set of quarterly results would be "adversely affected by sale timing and a late Easter".

M&S said its guidance for the full year to the end of March remains unchanged, and it will publish its annual results on May 24.