Marks & Spencer sales surge over Christmas

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The clothing and home division, which was a thorn in the company’s side, enjoyed sales growth for the second consecutive quarter

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Arks & Spencer has become the latest retailer to report bumper festive trading with growth across divisions.

M&S said group sales were up 8.6% over pre-pandemic levels and 18.5% over 2021 levels to £3.27 billion. Sales in the UK core business grew 8.9% to £3 billion in the 13 weeks to 1 January.

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Every division enjoyed strong growth at Christmas, including clothing and home, which has long been a thorn in the retailer. Clothing and home sales were up 3.2% at pre-pandemic levels and up 37.7% from last year’s total.

CEO Steve Rowe said: “The business has been strong over the Christmas period, with continuous improvements to our product and value.

“Clothing & Home delivered growth for the second consecutive quarter, supported by strong online and full price sales growth. Food has maintained its momentum, outperforming the market in 12 and 24 months.

“The market continues to be affected by the headwinds and tailwinds that we reported in the first half, but I’m encouraged that our transformation plan is outperforming now.”

Rowe, an M&S lifer, has been running the department store since 2016. He is the latest in a procession of CEOs who have been called upon to try and replace a consistently underperforming retailer.

Unlike predecessors, Rowe’s plan is actually working. Sales increased and the business delivered its first profit upgrade in this century last year.

M&S today put off another upgrade, but said it was now “more confident” of achieving its target of £500 million profit for the full year.

Shares of the retailer have gained over 80% in the past 12 months and are likely to rise again this morning.

The M&S bumper joins other names on the High Street in reporting the festive trade. Sainsbury’s, JD Sports and Dunlam all posted gains on Wednesday after a strong Christmas.

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