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Marks and Spencer reports multichannel sales up by a fifth; Halfords shows ecommerce growth of 13.4%

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Marks and Spencer has unveiled multichannel sales up by more than a fifth in the final quarter of its financial year, a rise that far outstripped growth elsewhere in the business.

For while multichannel sales, including purchases made through ecommerce, click and collect and m-commerce, grew by 22.9%, group sales rose by just 3.1%. M-commerce sales alone grew by 70% following improvements to the mobile shopping experience and an upgrade of the mobile app. Elsewhere, multichannel growth was put down to increased use of click and collect and a boost to website visits.

“Multichannel sales growth accelerated and our international business also performed well during the quarter,” said chief executive Marc Bolland.

Forthcoming improvements in this area of the business are set to include, later this month, a new e-commerce distribution centre and, next Spring, a new web platform.

Total UK sales were up by 2.6%, with like-for-likes up by 0.6% in the 13 weeks to March 30, the retailer said in a fourth-quarter trading statement this week. All the growth came from food sales (up by 4%, like-for-like), where the company saw its “biggest-ever Easter week” and escaped “the recent issues affecting the food industry,” as a result, it said, of long-term relationships with farmers and suppliers, which are based on trust, provenance and marketing-leading quality at all times. Those recent issues are likely to include the horsemeat scandal.

General merchandise, however, was down by 3.8%, like-for-like. International sales grew by 7% with improvements to the European performance, and growth in the Middle East, India and China. “We are working hard on improving our performance in general merchandise and, despite difficult trading conditions, we made progress in our operational execution.”

Full-year results will be reported on May 21.

Earlier in the week, Halfords reported a 13.4% rise in online sales in its final quarter, the 11 weeks to March 29.

Meanwhile total group revenue rose by 1.7% during the period, and by 1% during the full-year. Retail was up by 0.5% in the 11 weeks but down by 0.9% in the year, while its autocentres business grew by 7.8% in the 11 weeks and 13.5% in the full-year.

Like-for-like group sales grew by 0.4% in the 11 weeks and 0.3% in the year, with retail like-for-likes up by 0.3% in the 11 weeks and down by 0.7% in the full-year.

Cycling sales were down but the automotive accessories business grew. But cycle parts, accessories and clothing sold online bucked that trend, growing by 26.5%. Total online sales also benefited from a 24.7% rise in sat nav sales.

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