Marks and Spencer celebrated its best ever Christmas as it became the UK’s fastest growing grocer and bras flew off the shelves.
Food sales in the three months to January 1 were 10 per cent higher than a year earlier – leaving rivals including Tesco and Aldi in its wake.
And in its clothing and home arm sales were up 37.7 per cent on 2020 and, crucially, 3.2 per cent higher than in 2019.
On trend: Sales of bras – including lines designed by model Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley (pictured) – were 40% ahead of 2020 and 13% up from 2019
M&S enjoyed a record-breaking quarter for lingerie as women flooded back to stores for bra fittings once lockdowns eased.
Sales of bras – including lines designed by model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – were 40 per cent ahead of 2020 and 13 per cent up from 2019, with its Bluewater store in Kent fitting around 650 women every month.
Chief executive Steve Rowe hailed a ‘strong’ Christmas for M&S, adding: ‘I remain encouraged that our transformation plan is now driving improved performance.’
Signs of recovery at M&S had seen shares almost triple since their pandemic low in mid-2020. But the stock fell 8 per cent, or 20p, to 233p yesterday as it warned of a ‘tricky balance’ to manage increasing costs.
M&S said that while it was working hard to keep prices down, it was inevitable that some rises would be passed on to customers.
The 138-year-old retailer has more than 1,000 shops in the UK including more than 700 Simply Food shops.
Across the group sales hit £3.3billion, an 18.5 per cent jump from last year and 8.6 per cent above pre-Covid levels.
It led to an upgraded forecast and the retailer said profits for the year to April 2 would now be ‘at least £500million’. It is its third profit upgrade in the last six months.
Food sales were buoyed by festive specials as M&S sold more than a million bottles of its light-up snowglobe gin and more than a million flashing shortbread tins.
The strong performance in clothing, which has struggled with declining sales for years, saw sales top £1billion.
While in-store sales were 10.8 per cent below 2019 levels, online purchases were 50.8 per cent higher.
Shore Capital retail analyst Clive Black said: ‘The bottom line is M&S food sales are very strong and people now want to buy M&S clothes.’
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