Marks and Spencer sees Christmas sales rise

Marks and Spencer sale
Image caption M&S said it had "traded well" through Christmas

High Street retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) has reported a rise in sales for the last three months of 2010, despite the adverse weather conditions.

Like-for-like sales in the UK, which strip out the impact of sales from new stores, rose by 2.8% compared with a year earlier.

"Marks & Spencer traded well through the important Christmas period," said chief executive Marc Bolland.

Total sales rose 4%, with internet sales through M&S Direct up 25%.

International sales were 4.5% higher.

The group said it had increased market share in both clothing and food, despite the adverse weather.

It estimated that the severe weather in December had cut food sales by 1% and general merchandise sales, which include clothing and homewares, by 3%.

It also warned of tougher trading conditions ahead, "as consumers' disposable incomes come under pressure from the increased VAT rates and the impact of the public spending cuts".

Increasing commodity prices were also affecting the business, it added.

Marc Bolland took over from Sir Stuart Rose as M&S chief executive - a job seen as one of the most prestigious in UK retailing - in the summer.

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