British retailer M&S reports sales rise, warns on outlook
British retailer Marks & Spencer said Wednesday that group sales rose 2.3 percent in its fourth quarter but warned of an "increasingly challenging" outlook, in part due to higher commodity prices.
"We had a good fourth quarter in a challenging trading environment," chief executive Marc Bolland said in a company statement.
The clothing-to-food retailer, regarded as a barometer of consumer sentiment in Britain, last week announced a return to France after a 10-year absence.
M&S on Wednesday said that strong trading at most of its stores abroad helped to lift total group sales during the 13 weeks to April 2, offsetting much weaker growth in Britain and troubles in indebted Greece and Ireland.
"International sales were up 12.6 percent, reflecting strong performances across most of our markets offset by difficult trading conditions in Ireland and Greece," the company said on Wednesday.
Sales at its stores in Britain rose by only 0.1 percent in the group's fourth quarter.
"Looking ahead to 2011/12 we expect the trading conditions to be increasingly challenging due to pressure on consumers' disposable incomes and higher commodity prices," M&S said in its trading statement.
"As a result we are cautious about the outlook. Our focus will be on remaining competitive, and offering our customers great value and quality at a time when they will be managing their budgets carefully."
© 2011 AFP