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Sales in M&S international business grows 23%
Apr '09
Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman
Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman
M&S Group announces fourth quarter results for 2008-09.

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman said: We have made progress against the key priorities set out at the interim results in November. Our customers are responding positively to the actions we have taken, resulting in an improved sales performance this quarter in both General Merchandise and Foods.

International continues to grow strongly and we have managed our costs and cash flow tightly. Our trading stance remains first price, right price with four main sale events a year. While the outlook remains uncertain, we are confident that we are doing the right things for our customers and for our business.

We maintained market share in Clothing over the full year and made further progress in Home. In November we said we would strengthen our appeal to our core customer base and grow areas of low market share. In February, we introduced Portfolio and are pleased with the customer response to this new brand which we believe significantly enhances our womenswear offer. Kids had another good quarter and market share is now at its highest level by both value and volume for seven years. Home continues to make steady progress across all areas, including furniture. Online sales were up 20% with further growth in market share as we continue to broaden the product offer.

Sales in our International business grew 23% reflecting the ongoing integration of our Czech and Greek business partners and new store openings over the period.

In line with our previous guidance for 2008/09, we expect UK retail gross margin to be around 175 basis points lower than last year, operating cost growth of 4-5% and capital expenditure to be no more than £700m.

We will announce our 2008/09 Full Year results and confirm our guidance for 2009/10 on 19 May 2009.

Marks and Spencer plc

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