Marks and Spencer banana

Food and clothing retailer Marks & Spencer has recorded a 1 per cent increase in like-for-like food sales in the UK for the fourth quarter of 2011/12, despite total sales falling by 0.7 per cent.

Although group sales were up by 0.8 per cent, sales at the company’s international business also dropped by 0.2 per cent during the 13 weeks to 31 March 2012 compared with the same period 12 months before.

In a statement, Marks & Spencer chief executive, Marc Bolland, said the retailer had “continued to make progress in a challenging market”, noting that the company’s food business had “again performed well”.

“In food, we performed well in a very competitive market and against tough comparatives,” he said. “We continued our focus on innovation launching c.500 new products in the quarter.”

Bolland added: “We have continued to manage costs tightly, and are confident of delivering full year profits in line with expectations. 

“While the short term trading outlook continues to be challenging, we are focused on investing in line with our plan and are making strong progress against our goal of becoming an international, multi-channel retailer.”