High Street giant Marks & Spencer today dismissed suggestions that the stock shortages delaying the rollout of its new Per Una clothing range represented a setback.

A spokeswoman for the company said the range would sell in the expected amount but "in a smaller number of stores".

Sales had already beaten all expectations since being launched in 50 shops a week ago. "Sales have been double our forecasts," she added.

But the shortages mean plans to extend the collection into a further 43 stores over the next fortnight have been delayed indefinitely.

The company is expected to present disappointing figures to the city on Tuesday, with clothing sales expected to have fallen by 7 per cent in the three months to October, with women's wear down by 10 per cent.

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