16 January 2017 - Janet Bird
A turnaround plan aimed at returning Marks & Spencer's struggling clothing division to profitability has shown the first signs of success.
The retailer's clothing and home division experienced a 2.3 percent hike in like for like sales in the 13 weeks to December 31 - the first return to growth since 2015.
The rise in clothing sales has been attributed to Marks & Spencer's strategy of cutting prices across a third of its ranges and increasing the number of staff on its shop floors.
However, the retailer was quick to downplay the significance of the results, pointing out that around 1.5 percent of the clothing sales increase was down to extra trading days over the Christmas period. It also warned that fourth quarter results may not look so healthy due to a late Easter and the timing of sales.
Marks & Spencer confirmed it still intends to go ahead with plans to close 30 stores and convert 45 more to focus on its more lucrative food business.