Unseasonal weather dents Christmas sales at Marks & Spencer

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Alex Williamson, chief executive of House of Fraser, said: "We are a business in transition; our focus is on driving profitability rather than chasing revenue at any cost".

However, Marks & Spencer also revealed "mixed" festive trading blaming a tough October for a 2.8% fall in like-for-like clothing and home sales over the 13 weeks to December 30.

The supermarket group said that over the 19 weeks to January 6, it had experienced the highest rate of market share growth in Ireland for five years with like-for-like sales increasing by 3.5%.

M&S says it adhered to its full price stance despite the promotional nature of the period, and did not participate in Black Friday.

But the impact of an unseasonal October resulted in an overall revenue decline.

"We delivered an excellent operational performance across the group, with great availability, strong customer satisfaction scores and our lowest level of waste ever at Christmas", said Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury's.

A trading statement from Tesco's covering its third quarter and the Christmas period, confirms a continuation of positive like-for like sales trends. As was the case in November, it is now in danger of establishing an unwelcome position below the 300p threshold - a key level of technical support - for the first time since 2008.

The declines reported were still not as steep as some feared after profit warnings from the likes of Debenhams, Moss Bros and Mothercare.

Online sales at M&S.com lifted 3%, while its ongoing move to pull out of global markets saw overseas sales slump 9.8%.

Rowe added changes were underway at the retailer to "get the business back on track" this year.

Rowe, who said he was working well with Norman, said M&S had cut prices on about 200 food lines before Christmas but would do more to improve its competitiveness, availability, supply chain and waste reduction.

Prior to Thursday's update, analysts were on average forecasting a 2017-18 pretax profit before one-off items of 578 million pounds ($780 million) down from 614 million pounds made in 2016-17.

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