London: Marks & Spencer soundly beat forecasts for Christmas trading as it reported its first quarterly rise in underlying clothing and homeware sales in nearly two years, delivering a boost to new boss Steve Rowe.
The British retailer's clothing & home like-for-like sales rose 2.3 percent in the 13 Weeks to 31 Dec, beating market expectations of a 0.2 percent rise, it said on Thursday, while food was up 0.6 percent, also beating forecasts for a slight fall.
Chief Executive Rowe said customers had responded to "better ranges, better availability and better prices" in its clothes, while its "special and different" products helped it increase share in the food market in the festive period. The numbers show Rowe's strategy of turning around its clothing business, which has struggled for five years, is gaining traction.
M&S's numbers were helped by the timing of the period, with an additional five days of the busy post-Christmas sale falling into the quarter. It estimated timing had a positive effect of about 1.5 percent on clothing & home sales and about 0.3 percent on food.