Marks & Spencer suffers from declining clothes sales over Christmas period

The Marks and Spencer store in the town centre in Great Yarmouth which is closing and moving to the

The Marks and Spencer store in the town centre in Great Yarmouth which is closing and moving to the out of town Gapton Hall Retail Park. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

Marks & Spencer has reported more dire trading for its clothing division after it was beset by online delivery problems and unseasonal weather conditions.

The general merchandise division, which includes fashion, posted another quarter of declining sales over the Christmas period, with like-for-like sales down by a bigger-than-expected 5.8% in the 13 weeks to December 27.

Chief executive Marc Bolland highlighted an 'unsatisfactory performance' in M&S's e-commerce distribution centre but said its food halls were busy over the festive period after like-for-like sales rose 0.1% in the period.

M&S shares opened 3% lower after the worse-than-expected performance dashed hopes of an improved trend in clothing sales.

Neil Saunders, managing director of retail analyst Conlumino, said: 'We believe that M&S's strategy of becoming more fashion-focused is generally sound.

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'New collections, including those in place over the Christmas period, had some strong pieces and, generally, looked good - especially in larger stores.

'However, it is fair to say that the rejuvenation of M&S's clothing offer is at a relatively early stage and it has not yet completely won back the confidence of consumers. This means that performance can easily be blown off course by negative headwinds, and the gusts certainly blew this Christmas.'

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