Sales ‘disappointing’ over festive period for some big stores

PUBLISHED: 08:53 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:53 09 January 2020

M&S sales were saved by the nation's love of food over Christmas, results show. Pic: Archant

M&S sales were saved by the nation's love of food over Christmas, results show. Pic: Archant

The nation’s love of festive food helped save major retailers from what was otherwise a ‘disappointing’ trading period over Christmas.

M&S, which announced a raft of closures in 2019, said its food division had a "standout" performance over Christmas, helping lift its sales. Its UK food revenue grew 1.5% to £1.7bn in the three months to the end of December. However, sales in its clothing and home division dropped 2.7% to £1.1bn in the third quarter.

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Supermarket Tesco eked out a 0.1% rise in UK sales over the key Christmas trading weeks.

The UK's biggest grocery chain said it outperformed a "subdued" market, delivering its fifth Christmas in a row of sales growth.

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But while UK same-store sales grew in the six weeks to January 4, it saw a 0.2% drop in the 19 weeks covering both the third quarter and festive period.

Meanwhile, John Lewis and Waitrose may have had another successful ad campaign with 'Excitable Edgar' the cute dragon, but the future of the stores is currently in chaos. The MD of John Lewis was sacked and the chairman warned that staff may miss out on a bonus.

Paula Nickolds, who has been with the employee-owned retailer since 1994, leaves just three months after the MD of Waitrose also stepped down following a major restructuring.

Her departure comes as the department store revealed a 2% like-for-like sales slump in the seven weeks to January 5.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, who is also stepping down in February, said: "After some reflection on the responsibilities of her proposed new role, we have decided together that the implementation of the future partnership structure in February is the right time for her to move on and she will leave the partnership with our gratitude and best wishes for the future.

"At the full year, we expect profits in Waitrose & Partners to be broadly in line with last year.

"In John Lewis & Partners we will reverse the losses incurred in the first half of the year, but profits will be substantially down on last year. We therefore expect that partnership profit before exceptionals will be significantly lower than last year."

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