Marc Bolland, Chief Executive said:
“Our Food business has performed very well with record sales over the key Christmas trading period. Our General Merchandise performance is not yet satisfactory but we are confident that the steps being taken by the new management team will address this.
“Our plan is to transform Marks & Spencer from a traditional UK retailer to an international multi-channel retailer. We are making good progress against this plan.
“We are pleased with our Multi-channel and International performance.
“I'd like to thank all of our colleagues for their exceptional hard work and commitment over the busy Christmas period.”
Our Food business continued to perform strongly. Over the two key Christmas trading weeks we had record sales of nearly £330m and outperformed the market by c. 4%. Our strategy to focus on innovation worked, with over 700 new products launched during the quarter giving customers all the ingredients for a special M&S Christmas.
Our like-for-like sales for the 14 weeks to 5 January, which includes New Year's trading on a comparable basis, were up 0.9%. Looking at our two year performance we have now delivered growth of +7.3%. In an inflationary market, we held our average prices level on last year, giving customers great value at a time when they are managing their budgets carefully.
In a challenging and highly promotional General Merchandise market, we delivered fewer but more targeted promotions, with a focus on full price sales. As a result we offered customers great value at M&S quality, whilst protecting our gross margin.
The new General Merchandise management team, which started recently, has managed stocks tightly, resulting in slightly less stock into the Christmas sale, and a clean position at the end of the quarter. Our Spring/Summer season which launches in stores this week has been well received by the fashion press, and as previously announced, the new team's first seasonal collection will be in store from July with the launch of our new Autumn/Winter collection.
Multi-channel performed well despite tough comparatives with sales up 10.8%. We launched free next day store collection as part of our drive to improve our service for our customers. Sales from mobile devices were up over 90% and Christmas Food to Order was up 5%. The new e-commerce distribution centre and the new web platform are on track to launch in April 2013 and Spring 2014 respectively.
Our key International markets in India and China continued to trade well, however, international sales overall were impacted by currency translation as well as continued macro-economic weakness in the Republic of Ireland and Greece and the on-going restructuring of our Central European business.
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