M&S suffers clothing sales slump
Marks & Spencer has revealed a bigger-than-expected slump in clothing sales over Christmas.
The group, which has drafted in the former Debenhams and Jaeger boss Belinda Earl to revitalise its womenswear, said it had been a "challenging and highly promotional" general merchandise market.
The figures, which had been due for release on Thursday morning, were worse-than-expected, with most analysts predicting a 1.5% like-for-like decline in general merchandise sales.
Chief executive Marc Bolland admitted the group's general merchandise business was "not yet satisfactory".
But he said he was confident in the steps being taken by the new team, including tighter stock management, with a focus on full price sales.
The new team's first collection for Autumn Winter will not be in the shops until July.
The results come in contrast to other retail giants Next and John Lewis which both reported strong sales growth over the Christmas period. The results will put more pressure on Mr Bolland, who took over as chief executive in 2010.
But the group produced a better-than-expected performance in its food business, where sales were up 0.3% on a like-for-like basis.
The group said the launch of over 700 new products had helped it to achieve record sales of almost £330 million in the two key Christmas trading weeks.