Sales Grow In First Quarter At M & S

Marks & Spencer's (M & S) online business M&S Direct saw sales rise 49 per cent in the first quarter of the new financial year.

Overall UK sales were up by 4.4 per cent, with the online side of the business playing a solid role in the sales performance.

The company has invested in its online business in recent months. M & S boss Stuart Rose said a new Amazon platform underpinned the firm's aim to take £500m a year in web sales by 2010. "Online sales are up 60 per cent, driven by significant improvement in traffic and conversion levels," he said.

Other large retailers said online selling was fundamental to their investment plans.

"Online sales and using our websites as an effective communication tool to customers are now pivotal parts of the brands' strategies," said Andrew Clarke, IT director at Arcadia, which owns Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton.

It extended its Shop Your Way multi-channel ordering service to more than 400 stores and has launched a fully mobile-enabled website.

Chief executive of M & S, Mark Bolland said in his interim management statement, ( )

"Marks & Spencer has delivered another good sales performance in the first quarter, continuing the progress made by the team over the previous year. We have continued to grow market share across all parts of the business as customers recognised the strength of the Marks & Spencer brand and the great quality and value it represents."

But despite the strong performance the company reported a cautious outlook ahead of the rise in VAT, which it fears could affect consumer confidence.

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