United Kingdom retailers report sales growth in Christmas trading updates
- Author: Megan Austin Jan 13, 2017,
Jan 13, 2017, 0:36
Peer Debenhams reported that group like-for-like sales rose 3.5 per cent for the 18-week period to January 7, similarly bolstered by non-food items like beauty and gift sales, but chief executive Sergio Bucher also cited "challenges in the broader environment".
The retailer said like-for-like clothing sales were up by 2.3% in the 13 weeks to 31 December.
The long-awaited turnaround in fortunes for Marks & Spencer's fashion business could be upon us as the retailer posted its first quarterly growth in Clothing & Home sales in six years after a strong Christmas.
It added group like-for-like sales rose 1.3%, while food sales, which has been the strongest performing part of the business for years, grew by 0.6%.
"We saw full-price increases in every single clothing division", Rowe said, adding that it was the first time the 133-year-old company had gained market share in the full-price clothing market for about seven years.
To address this, Chief Executive Steve Rowe used M&S's interim results in November to set out a series of changes to turn the company around.
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M&S announced plans in November to close around 30 United Kingdom stores and convert 45 more into food-only shops, while also announcing a retreat from a raft of global markets. "We also continued to substantially reduce discounting, including over Black Friday", Rowe said.
"The index also managed to post its 12th successive record close in a row, helped in no small part by a pound that sank to its lowest level against the United States dollar since the 7th October previous year, and even though the pound managed to reverse those declines, the United Kingdom benchmark was able to hang onto most of the new gains".
Kate Calvert, retail analyst at Investec, said it was "too early to call a victory" in its clothing sales fightback.
Worldwide sales surged by 52 per cent, as Asos benefitted from the weak pound.
However, he cautioned: "As we look forward, our Q4 reported numbers will be adversely affected by sale timing and a later Easter".
M&S said its guidance for the full year to the end of March remains unchanged, and it will publish its annual results on May 24.