M&S clothing and food sales better than expected in Christmas quarter


The FTSE is up 11 points this Thursday morning to fresh high's on the back of a weaker Pound, which is being held back despite yesterday's positive United Kingdom manufacturing data.

United Kingdom shares were marginally higher on Thursday as the pound weakened against the dollar and euro, helping offset weak earnings updates from the likes of Tesco and Marks & Spencer Group. This included a 3.7% rise in LFL sales of fresh food. Christmas trading was hampered by the continued squeeze on personal finances as five-year highs in inflation eroded spending power.

Mr Yaxley said he's "very encouraged" by Tesco's latest performance and that a continued focus on improving its offer for customers resulted in "increased volumes, transactions and basket size".

Marks & Spencer shares tumbled 22.8p, or 7.04pc to 301.2p.

The top three retailers are neck-and-neck in terms of market share, with Musgrave-controlled SuperValu having a 22.2pc share.

A profit upgrade from Next and contrasting earnings alert from Debenhams last week set the scene for a mixed performance and the latest clutch of sales reports show it was by no means a jolly Christmas for all.

A trading statement from Tesco's covering its third quarter and the Christmas period, confirms a continuation of positive like-for like sales trends. Its food sales also disappointed, down 0.4%, as it admitted the division was suffering "ongoing under-performance".

Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket chain, reported like-for-like growth of 1.9% for its United Kingdom stores, a performance it said as thanks to the strength of its food business which saw underlying growth of 3.4%. Its party food offerings helped to lift sales.

Tesco did take a hit from lost tobacco sales after wholesaler Palmer & Harvey collapsed in November.

But Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the partnership which owns the department store chain as well as supermarket Waitrose, admitted that pressure on profit margins had intensified amid rising costs thanks to the pound's Brexit-related weakness, and warned that trading would remain "volatile" for the year ahead.