Department store chain Marks & Spencer Group Plc has suffered a year-on-year fall of almost 40 per cent in sales of its women's knitwear lines, according to The Sunday Times.

Sales figures leaked to the newspaper also revealed that the company cut the price of its knitwear in response to the sales slump, leading to a sharp but unspecified fall in its share price.

Sales of women's knitwear for the week beginning October 12, the newspaper reported, were down 38 per cent compared to the same period in 2002, hindered by unseasonably warm weather.

After a price cut in the week beginning October 26, however, knitwear sales were 26 per cent ahead year-on-year.