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Marks and Spencer's clothing sales drop by 3.5%
Oct '08
Marks and Spencer Group plc releases quarter two trading statement for 2008/09.

13 Weeks to 27 September 2008
Group sales up 0.4%
• UK sales down 1.6%: General Merchandise -2.9% (Clothing -3.5%; Home +2.9% ); Food -0.5%
• UK like for like sales down 6.1%: General Merchandise -6.4%; Food -5.9%
• Online Sales up 34%
• International sales up 24.2%

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman said:
"Group sales were up 0.4%. In the UK sales were down 1.6%, although they remained relatively steady quarter on quarter, despite the difficult environment. Consumer confidence remains fragile and the retail environment unpredictable. Consumers are increasingly cautious about their budgets. We have responded by offering our customers better values and more promotions across the business, while at the same time tightly controlling our costs.

"In General Merchandise we continue to offer great quality, stylish product, combined with keen values across all price points. We are confident about our Autumn/Winter offer. In Food, we are committed to giving our customers outstanding product while implementing a range of initiatives to improve value, innovation and availability.

"Our investment to improve values along with a more promotional stance has more than offset improvements in bought-in margins. As a result, we are currently expecting a reduction of around 100 basis points in UK gross margin for the full year, although this will depend on market conditions and our trading stance.

"We have managed operating costs tightly and now expect operating cost growth for the full year of 4-5%, compared to our previous guidance of 7%. Capital expenditure this year is now expected to be around £700m compared to our previous guidance of £800-900m. For 2009/10 we now expect to spend around £400m with the focus of spend being on supply chain and information technology systems."

Marks and Spencer Group plc will report its 2008/09 Interim results on 4 November 2008.

Marks and Spencer Group plc

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