M&S confirms Christmas sales rise

<p>Christmas sales were up for Marks and Spencer.</p>

Marks and Spencer's (M&S's) Christmas sales were up in the 2013 festive period, the firm has announced in its new festive trading statement today (January 9th).

For the 13 weeks to December 28th, its group sales were up by 1.8 per cent for the figures for the 2012 period, while sales rose by 3.2 per cent in the eight weeks before Christmas itself.

The earnings of M&S were broadly in line with the expectations of analysts and its share price is fairly stable in the early stages of trading this morning as a result.

As with many of the UK's top retailers, online sales were a particularly strong area of growth for M&S last Christmas, with a 24.1 per cent increase in the eight weeks leading up to Christmas and a 22.7 per cent rise in online sales in the quarter overall.

Improved results

Marc Bolland, chief executive of the company, stated that the firm was able to deliver an improved series of results in what makes up a highly competitive market at that time of year.

"However, an exceptionally unseasonal October, which saw [general merchandising] sales down strongly, has resulted in a quarterly performance below our expectations. Our food business had an excellent quarter, with 4.1 per cent growth and record sales over the Christmas period, including our biggest day ever in food of £64 million on December 23rd," he said.

Mr Bolland added that his aim is to transform M&S into an international, multichannel retailer and as such is pleased with the strong rise in online sales recorded over the course of the last quarter of 2013.

"I'd like to thank all of our colleagues for their exceptional hard work and commitment over the key Christmas period," he said, stressing how challenging the retail market has been for companies in the latest festive period.

Following the release of the festive period sales data, the share price of M&S is slightly up this morning, with stocks around one per cent higher at 08:37 GMT today.

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