Marks & Spencer gains share in tough clothes market

M&S store on Oxford Street in London
Image caption M&S says it has gained market share over rivals

Marks and Spencer has reported sales growth and a bigger market share despite the stagnant UK clothes market.

Like-for-like UK sales excluding VAT in the 13 weeks to 2 July rose 1.7% versus a year ago, in line with expectations.

The growth was entirely driven by food sales. Non-food like-for-like sales saw zero growth - an improvement on the 3.9% fall in the previous quarter.

The retailer said it had increased its UK market share slightly in both the food and clothing sectors.

Despite the sales rise, shares in M&S fell 2.7% in early trading, reversing gains made over the previous two weeks.

'Cautious' outlook

Food sales rose 3.3% on a like-for-like basis, helping M&S to increase its market share from 3.7% to 3.8%.

The department store partly attributed this success to customers using its "Dine In" promotions to get "better value alternatives to eating out".

Marks & Spencer Group

Last Updated at 17 Nov 2017, 16:23 GMT *Chart shows local time Marks & Spencer Group intraday chart
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In the clothing sector, its share rose from 11.5% to 11.7%, its 17th consecutive month of market share gain.

It comes a day after the British Retail Consortium revealed that clothing sales across the UK - particularly for women - slumped in June, despite retailers discounting heavily and starting their summer sales early.

M&S said that it remained "cautious" about the market outlook.

"We expect trading conditions to remain challenging due to pressure on consumers' disposable incomes and higher commodity prices," it said.

The retailer reconfirmed its profit guidance for the full financial year.

International sales rose 7.8%, while M&S Direct sales - which include online - were up 13%.

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