Marks and Spencer's UK sales rise is not enough to keep the stock from falling

Marc Bolland and Joanna LumleyGettyJoanna Lumley, Marc Bolland and Barbara Stocking launch the Marks And Spencer ‘Shwop Drop’ initiative at the Old Trueman Brewery on April 26, 2012 in London, England.

Marks and Spencer reported a 1.9% rise in UK sales for the 13 weeks ending June 27, but that was not enough to stock falling this morning.

The M&S stock price fell by nearly 2% in the market open, before recovering slightly, because its like-for-like sales in the unit that is largely made up of clothing, general merchandising, fell by 0.4%.

It was only because the bellwether retailer posted a strong food sales of 3.2% for the period that sales in general were up.

Even its UK sales rise was a bit disappointing — a like-for-like comparison recorded ZERO growth.

“Marks and Spencer continues to make an effort to revive the business but has run into some stumbling blocks,” said Brenda Kelly, head analyst at London Capital Group. “Sales of general merchandise from stores open at least a year fell 0.4% in the three months to June 27. The food business has been positive but clothing sales remain somewhat muted.”

While its clothing sales are down, it did report a massive rise in its website’s sales for the period — although it looks like a big boost came from the way it now measures stats. It said: “The improvements made in both our new website and distribution centre are delivering results, with key customer metrics including traffic, conversion and customer satisfaction, all up on the year.”

“We continue to make progress against our key priorities,” said Marc Bolland, CEO of M&S. “Our Food business did very well in a difficult market. In General Merchandise, sales were broadly level on last year and we are on track to deliver the planned increase in gross margin. M& performance was very strong, with customers appreciating all the improvements to our website.”

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