Broker Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DKW) has warned UK clothing retailers they will find trading conditions for the next three years a lot tougher than those in 2001.

In a circular, the firm cautioned that the outlook for consumer spending is a lot more cloudy this year and will see a return of over capacity.

DKW pointed out that 70 per cent of the space C&A gave up last year is now in the hands of more competent retailers such as Next PLC and Primark.

It added: "The market continues to polarise away from middle-market players to discounters, the fastest-growing segment. No retailer apart from Hennes & Mauritz AB in Sweden has maintained more than 10 per cent domestic market share.

"We expect Marks & Spencer PLC with a market share of 11 per cent in the UK to decline over the medium term."

DKW also described Matalan as "the retail management story of 2002" under the leadership of new chief executive Paul Mason but said it has a cautious outlook on high street giant Marks & Spencer.