High street retailers Marks & Spencer (M&S) registered a 10.4 per cent improvement in their UK sales during their first quarter period, the company has announced.
The impressive growth, reflecting a like-for-like sales increase of 8.2 per cent, received a 0.8 per cent boost from Easter, which fell within the 13-week period before July 1st.
M&S' clothing range, which has undergone a substantial branding and market re-orientation, was largely responsible for the improved figures. While clothing increased by 10.7 per cent, food sales were up by 9.2 per cent. General merchandise grew by 11.7 per cent.
Despite admitting that today's figures were exaggerated in impact by the "soft comparatives" of last year's results, M&S chief executive, Stuart Rose, described his company's first quarter performance as "encouraging".
"We continue to focus on improving product, service and the refurbishment of our store portfolio, 42 of which are currently under development," Mr Rose said.
"We are creating 4,000 new jobs in our stores to satisfy extra demand and the new space coming on stream. Despite the challenging trading environment, we are confident that we can continue to drive the business profitably."
Mr Rose pointed out that the company had increased its food market share by 0.6 per cent, up to 4.1 per cent from 3.5 per cent 12 months ago.
Despite their improved sales figures M&S shares fell on the London Stock Exchange in early morning trading by 0.43 per cent.