New M&S boss says clothing sales slump is "unsatisfactory"

The new boss of high street giant Marks and Spencer has vowed to improve the quality of its clothes as sales in the struggling division slumped again.

The group said like-for-like sales in its clothing and homes division dropped 2.7% in the 13 weeks to March 26 partly due to having less products being on promotion.

Its food division once again performed strongly with sales up 4% and its market share rising to 4.3%. It said its biggest ever Mother's Day had boosted demand.

M& sales grew 8.2% with overall group sales up 1.9%.

Chief executive Steve Rowe, who replaced Marc Bolland earlier this month, said: “I am very proud and privileged to be leading M&S. We are focused on getting even closer to our customers and putting them at the heart of everything we do. We had a mixed performance with the performance in clothing and home remaining unsatisfactory. There is still more we need to do. Turning around our clothing and home business by improving our customer offer is number one priority. I will update you on my thoughts on the business in May.”

James McGregor, partner at Retail Remedy retail consultants, said: “We can expect Steve Rowe to ‘kitchen sink’ the M&S full-year results in May leaving him with a clean sheet with which to start his tenure as CEO.”

Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, added: “This latest poor performance comes as no surprise sine the clothing division has only managed to increase like-for-like sales in one of the past 16 quarters. Drastic changes are still needed to encourage consumers back onto the shop floor. Rowe has an uphill battle ahead of him. Only time will tell whether he can be the knight in shining armour that M&S so desperately needs or whether the ailing retailer will remain out of fashion for years to come.”