In its third-quarter sales update for 13 weeks to 31 December 2022, Marks & Spencer (M&S) delivered a “strong” Christmas trading performance with group sales up 9.9% to GBP3.6bn (US$4.4bn).

Total UK sales, meanwhile, were up 9.7% GBP3.29bn for the period. Total international sales saw an increase of 12.5% to GBP312m at constant currency with strong retail sales growth in key franchise markets in the Middle East and owned markets including India.

Additionally, total sales for clothing & home in the third quarter were up at 8.8% to GBP1.18bn with like-to-like sales rising 8.6%. Clothing & home achieved over 10% market share in the period, its highest level since 2015, says M&S.

The full line and renewal stores “outperformed expectations”, while click and collect orders increased 20%, and the competitive advantage of M&S’s omnichannel platform was demonstrated by delivering c.50% growth in third party brand sales. This was supported by “substantial” growth in monthly active App users to c.5m.

Stuart Machin, chief executive at M&S, said the British retailer sustained trading momentum through the peak quarter, delivering strong growth in all arenas.

“Clothing and Home delivered another outstanding performance, maintaining its market leadership position with its highest market share in seven years. Thanks to our unrivalled quality, innovation and growing style credentials, more customers shopped with M&S over the Christmas period than in recent years. I would like to thank all our colleagues for the fantastic service they delivered. We saw the benefits of the acceleration in the steps we’re taking to reshape M&S as an omnichannel retailer supported by an increasingly promising store rotation programme.”

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Machin spoke of the next steps, saying: “Given the inflationary pressures impacting our customers and our business, M&S is taking action to structurally reduce costs and reinforce our customer proposition. Our singular focus is on delivering the M&S Reshaped programme to drive growth and value creation as the UK’s leading omnichannel retailer. This performance across both our businesses provides confidence in delivering our full year results.”

Marks & Spencer will report the full year results for the 52 weeks ended 2 April 2022 on 24 May 2023.

Impressive Christmas performance

Sofie Willmott, sector head of health & beauty at GlobalData, pointed to M&S’ soaring numbers across all its divisions calling it “an impressive Christmas performance after many years of struggling.” She attributed this growth to the recent strategical changes including M&S reshaped strategy, along with the continued “quality and value credentials” of the products being offered.

She said M&S’ thoughtful addition of third-party brands, which do not cannibalise sales of its own ranges, has been driving its non-food fortunes, including the exciting but still “widely age-appropriate clothing” that has been bolstering its reputation and attracting shoppers.

On a cautionary note, Willmott added: “Although 2023 is set to be tough for UK retailers, strategic changes at M&S have put it in a strong position to face the challenges and its wealthier and older shopper base will give it more protection than many of its competitors.”

In November last year, M&S reported a plunge in its half-yearly profits despite a rise in Clothing & Home sales during the period.