M&S cuts more prices in Christmas battle

MARKS & SPENCER launched a fresh round of price promotions yesterday as high-street retailers become increasingly desperate to attract Christmas trade.

M&S is cutting 20 per cent off all toiletries, cosmetics and childrenswear for four days until Sunday. "It is another way of driving footfall and getting customers back in to see what we've got," an M&S spokeswoman said.

M&S holds 7.5 per cent of the childrenswear market, but has found its position under increasing pressure from rivals such as The Gap, Hennes & Mauritz and Asda's George range of clothing.

The price promotion follows similar cuts made by M&S in menswear and selected offers on home furnishings. The chain has also run recent promotions on ladies' nightwear as well as its week-long "Autumn Windfall", which awarded pounds 5 vouchers to customers who spent pounds 20 during the October half- term week.

M&S is not alone in running pre-Christmas promotions. House of Fraser, the department store group, yesterday put on a "one-day spectacular", with discounts of up to 20 per cent available on selected items. Storehouse is cutting prices at its struggling Bhs chain, and C&A is cutting some prices by up to one-third as the pre-Christmas high-street battle hots up.

M&S shares closed 1.5p lower at 240p yesterday after WestLB Panmure downgraded its full-year profits forecast for the group from pounds 500m to pounds 450m and predicted a cut in the full-year dividend from 10p per share to 6.7p.

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