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M&S ‘confident’ on profits after strong Christmas trading

Marks and Spencer has said it is more confident in its ability to deliver on profit expectations after record sales over the Christmas period.

The British retailer, which increased its profit guidance last November, said sales in the 13 weeks to January 1 rose 18.5 per cent to £3.3bn when compared with the same period last year. Sales rose 8.6 per cent over the same period two years ago.

“Trading over the Christmas period has been strong, demonstrating the continued improvements we’ve made to product and value,” said chief executive Steve Rowe.

“Clothing and home has delivered growth for the second successive quarter, supported by robust online and full-price sales growth. Food has maintained its momentum, outperforming the market over both 12 and 24 months,” he added.

Marks and Spencer’s food division posted its highest ever Christmas sales, rising 12.4 per cent to £1.9bn when compared with the same period two years ago.

The company, once renowned for false dawns in trading, has upgraded profit expectations twice this financial year, most recently in November when it predicted full-year profit of £500m. The retailer now expects full-year profit before tax and adjusted items of “at least” £500m. 

It has taken market share in food by simplifying pricing, and has improved profit margins by changing clothing and home product offerings.

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