LONDON — Marks & Spencer, the biggest U.K. clothing retailer, said Tuesday that sales rose 10.4 percent in the 13 weeks ended July 1, compared with the same period last year.

In the retailer’s fourth quarter of consecutive sales growth, clothing was up 10.7 percent and home increased 23.3 percent. Same-store sales gained 8.3 percent.

However, M&S chief executive officer Stuart Rose cautioned that the rise in sales was against “soft comparatives” from the previous year and estimated that the Easter holiday had boosted food and clothing sales 0.8 percent.

“Despite the challenging trading environment, we are confident that we can continue to drive the business profitably,” Rose said. “We continue to focus on improving product, service and the refurbishment of our store portfolio.”

Elaborating on the results, Rose noted that the retailer had also increased its share of the U.K. clothing and footwear market in the quarter, from 9.3 percent to 10 percent.

Richard Ratner, head of equities at Seymour Pierce, said M&S has also improved sales of its “better” and “best” clothing categories in terms of volume, although more than half the retailer’s clothing sales still come from its entry price point apparel and its midpriced line, Per Una.

With the U.K. on track, Rose is looking overseas. The company plans to open 25 to 30 franchised stores across the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Ukraine and in Dubai this fall.

In other news at the company, former treasury official Lord Burns will succeed Paul Myners as chairman of M&S. Myners had been in the role two years.

This story first appeared in the July 12, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus