M&S suffers fashion sales slump

Thurrock Gazette: Marks and Spencer's sales have not reached expected levels Marks and Spencer's sales have not reached expected levels

Marks & Spencer has failed to pull in new year sales shoppers, with reports suggesting it lost ground to rivals Primark and Zara.

The retail bellwether lost 0.4% of market share and suffered a 1.3% slump in fashion sales in the 24 weeks to January 20, according to industry data from Kantar Worldpanel, reported in The Sunday Times.

But budget fashion chain Primark and high street fashion brand Zara both saw double-digit sales growth, while Debenhams, H&M and Next also performed well, according to the report.

The figures will intensify pressure on M&S boss Marc Bolland after a dismal clothing performance over Christmas for the group, which reported like-for-like sales fell by 1.8% in the UK in the 13 weeks to December 29, including a bigger-than-expected slump in general merchandise of 3.8%.

The group, which has drafted in the former Debenhams and Jaeger boss Belinda Earl to revitalise its womenswear, said at its last trading update that it had been a "challenging and highly promotional" general merchandise market and it needed more time to address the turnaround plan.

The new team's first collection for Autumn Winter will not be in the shops until July.

It appears hard-up shoppers have been lured by the budget fashion from Primark, which has seen sales surge in recent years.

The Kantar figures come after the Office for National Statistics reported a shock drop in January sales volumes as snow hit many parts of the UK.

Kantar could not be reached for a comment and M&S declined to comment.

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