LONDON — The new golden age at Marks & Spencer plc has lost some of its sparkle.

Less than two months after reporting a 27 percent spike in profits and record sales of almost $17 billion for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, M&S has posted a slowdown in sales growth for the first quarter ended June 30.

In the first quarter of the 2007-2008 fiscal year, sales in the U.K. increased by 6.4 percent, and by 2 percent on an underlying basis, M&S said in a statement Tuesday. No specific currency figures were disclosed.

The company was up against strong comparisons from the previous year. In the first quarter of the 2006-2007 fiscal year, U.K. sales increased 10.5 percent, with underlying sales up 8.2 percent.

In the final quarter of the 2006-2007 fiscal year, ended March 31, U.K. sales had risen 7.8 percent, with underlying sales rising 3.8 percent.

Chief executive officer Stuart Rose said these were not easy times.

"Rising interest rates, general uncertainty over consumer spending and extreme weather conditions combined to make market conditions particularly volatile over the quarter," he said. During the quarter, Rose added, some 3 million square feet of store space was off-limits because of a store modernization program.

"We believe the short-term trading environment will remain very challenging, but our plans are unchanged,'' Rose said. "We are confident that our focus on product, service and environment and our investment in the brand will ensure we continue to make progress."

Rose added that investment in the business would continue, and that 4.5 percent of store space would be added in the current fiscal year. Due to store modernization, some 70 percent of the M&S portfolio will be completed by Christmas. The company will announce second-quarter trading and interim results on Nov. 6.

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