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Marks & Spencer’s online sales rise by more than a third

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Marks & Spencer today said online sales grew by more than a third this spring as customers responded to improvements to its new website.

The high street retailer said ecommerce sales grew by 38.7% in the first quarter, the 13 weeks to June 2. This year’s figures were flattered by particularly poor performance following the launch of the new, in-house developed website last spring. Then sales fell: at this time last year they were down by 8.1% on the previous year. But sales have since then improved gradually, returning to growth at the end of 2014.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said today that customers were starting to like what they saw online, following work both to the site and to the distribution centre, improving delivery services.

“M&S.com performance was very strong,” he said today, “with customers appreciating all the improvements to our website.” Traffic, conversion and customer satisfaction were all up at the same time as revenue.

Today’s ecommerce growth came as overall group sales grew by 1.8%. UK sales were up by 1.9%, and international sales by 0.7%. Food sales growth, at 0.3% on a like-for-like basis, outpaced general merchandise, where like-for-like sales were down by 0.4%.

Commenting on the figures, Kantar Retail analyst Simon Johnstone said the company needed to bring to its general merchandise range the same combination of product innovation and a unique products that had brought growth to its food business.

He said: “There has also been growth this quarter for M&S.com and its decision to extend free Click and Collect at more than 100 of its Simply Food outlets is a positive move. The retailer is pinning its recovery hopes on the investment in a rapid and flexible supply chain to meet the demands from shoppers for the rapid change in fashion, as opposed to investment in an efficient supply chain, which is fast becoming a priority for many of its rivals.”

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