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M&S’s first quarter trading up nearly 5% – direct sales increased 48%

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M&S’s results were published today and you can see the press release information here, showing:

• Group sales +4.8%

• UK sales* +6.2%: General Merchandise +10.6% (Clothing +10.1%; Home +13.3%); Food +2.6%

• UK like for like sales* +5.1%: General Merchandise +9.1%; Food +1.8%

• M&S Direct sales +48%

• International sales -5.9%

While the results are somewhat flattered by the inclusion of the Christmas sale in this quarter (giving a 2% lift to Direct, for example), they’re still a great result for the brand.

While we were interested in the excellent Direct channel growth it’s the extension of the “Shop you way” (or collect in store) option to 300 stores that caught our eye. M&S don’t disclose the amount of incremental sales that this initiative has generated, but expect it to be a significant amount. Furthermore it shows M&S to be maturing as a multichannel retailer, using its estate to boost sales, online and off.

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman said: “These are strong quarterly results by any measure. They demonstrate the appeal of the M&S brand to our 21 million weekly customers and its resilience in these difficult times. The continuing improvement in our performance is the result of the actions we have taken to invest in our stores, service, product and values.”

Be that as it may, 21 million is a cool 1 million more than the 20million customers shopping with Tesco each week, and a further reminder that – as we’ve seen with Facebook and Tesco – when giants move they can move markets with them.

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