UK retail giant Marks and Spencer saw clothing sales rise 1.4% in the first quarter, contributing towards an overall 1.7% UK sales climb, the company reported today (1 July).

The chain's first quarter interim statement said group sales rose 2.9%.

UK like for like sales decreased 1.4% though, with general merchandise down 2.4% and food falling 0.5%. The company said that online sales increased 28% in the first quarter.

M&S' international sales rose 15.9% during the period.

It said clothing market share was up 30 bps with improved performance in all areas of the business.

Sir Stuart Rose, M&S chairman, said: "We are pleased with the improving trend in our performance. This demonstrates that the actions we are taking are working.

"Customers have responded well to our initiatives particularly our 125th anniversary campaign, and recently voted us the UK's most trusted retail brand."

"Consumer confidence appears to be stabilising. However, we remain cautious about the outlook for the remainder of this and next year and will continue to run the business accordingly."

Speaking in a conference call this morning, Sir Stuart added: "Confidence appears to be stabilising although I wouldn't say in any way that there are any green shoots.

"In the round it has been a reasonably good first quarter but we shouldn't get carried away."