In the latest blow to faltering high-street chain Marks & Spencer, disappointing summer clothing sales have resulted in a 6.3 per cent drop in like-for-like sales for the 10 weeks to 18 September.

Same-store sales of clothing and home furnishings fell 9.2 per cent in the 10-week period - significantly higher than the 2.8 per cent decrease in same-store sales posted for the three months ended 10 July.

The retailer has also priced its previously announced 2.3 billion share buyback in the 332-380 pence per share range - considerably less than the 400p offered by entrepreneur Philip Green during his takeover bid for the company earlier this year.

While government figures have shown an increase in apparel sales in August, clothing retailers in general have blamed poor summer weather for their disappointing performance.

Rose said of the results: "I'm not looking for excuses. There were a lot of distractions with the bid going, and that had some effect on external perceptions of the business."

"We've got to fight back. I don't change my view that the business has substantial trading potential."

Rose's impact on the business is not expected to show until early 2005 when his ranges and decisions start coming through.

M&S finally lost its monopoly over the market in July, when Wal-Mart's Asda took over as Britain's biggest clothing retailer in terms of the volume of clothing sold.