"Volatile" market conditions hits M&S

10-07-2007

High street success story Marks and Spencer (M&S) has revealed that even it is not immune from the slowdown blighting the retail sector.

Britain's largest clothing retailer said that in the 13 weeks ending June 30th its like-for-like sales were up two per cent, the slowest increase felt for almost two years.

The last trading quarter saw abysmal weather in June, while the Bank of England raised interest rates to 5.5 per cent in May.

M&S chief executive Stuart Rose, who has presided over a resurgence in fortunes at the retailer since 2004, today admitted that market conditions had been "volatile" over the last three months.

"Rising interest rates, general uncertainty over consumer spending, and extreme weather conditions combined to make market conditions particularly volatile over the quarter," he said in a statement.

"We believe that the short-term trading environment will remain very challenging, but our plans are unchanged. We are confident that our focus on product, service and environment and our investment in the brand will ensure we continue to make progress."

M&S' trading figures also reveal that in the last quarter food sales were up 0.7 per cent overall, while clothing sales increased by 3.5 per cent.

International sales meanwhile experienced a 14.8 per cent boon, with the retailer opening ten stores outside of the UK, including in Lithuania, Ukraine and Taiwan.


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