M&S clothing sales continue to fall

Marks and SpencerMarks & Spencer has reported an eighth successive quarter of falling sales in its clothing division as boss Marc Bolland insisted that performance was starting to improve.

The decline in like-for-like sales of 1.6% for the 13 weeks to the end of June was broadly in line with expectations and comes hours before Mr Bolland attempts to convince investors that his recovery plan is on track.

It follows a disastrous 2012/13 for the general merchandise division, when underlying sales were down 4.1%.

The quarterly trading update showed overall like-for-like sales crept up by 0.3%, bolstered by the continued success of food, which rose 1.8%.
The total UK sales figure was up by 2.7%, featuring a 4.5% rise for food and a 0.5% increase in general merchandise when additional store space is included.

Mr Bolland said: "Our general merchandise business showed some improvement this quarter and the food business delivered another excellent performance."

The chief executive, who recently said that better returns for investors in the next year were "no fairytale", faces shareholders at the firm's annual general meeting at Wembley Stadium later.

M&S's autumn/winter range goes on sale later this month and has already received good reviews following the appointment of a new fashion team.