M&S stocks up on sales news

<p>Shares in Marks & Spencer have risen this morning.</p>

The share price of Marks & Spencer (M&S) has risen this morning (April 10th) after the company released its latest sales data in a trading update.

Figures for the 13 weeks to March 29th showed a 1.9 per cent rise in group sales, while total sales were 1.5 per cent higher over the first quarter of the year.

However, it was also revealed by M&S that its like-for-like sales slipped by 0.2 per cent over the January to March period, though a 2.5 per cent increase in food sales was a positive sign.

Chief executive at M&S Marc Bolland stated that clothing sales were up by 1.3 per cent overall, with this figure becoming 0.6 per cent when sales are calculated on a like-for-like basis.

He said: "Our food business had another great quarter, especially considering the later timing of Easter. This marks our 18th consecutive quarter of growth. We continued to outperform the market with record sales around key events including Valentine's Day and Mother's Day."

Priority markets

Internationally, M&S said in a statement that its priority markets delivered a strong performance for the first quarter of the year, with the company hailing good levels of strong growth in India, as well as in flagship stores in China and in the Gulf. It added: "We are pleased with the performance in Western Europe, with good improvement in Greece and Czech Republic."

M&S is now expecting the full year gross margin in its food business to be slightly ahead of previous guidance and investors responded positively to this news, with the share price of the firm rising quickly in the early stages of trading this morning.

By 08:28 BST, stocks in the famous British company were up by more than two per cent on the start of the day, but by 09:42 BST the gain was down to 1.45 per cent.

M&S concluded: "Despite some improvement in consumer confidence, we remain cautious about the outlook. Our focus is on continuing to transform Marks & Spencer into an international, multi-channel retailer."

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