Marks & Spencer reports strong Christmas sales

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The Independent Online

Struggling retailer Marks & Spencer PLC said today that its Christmas season sales were strong and it believed its recovery was moving ahead.

Sales in the seven weeks ending January 12 were up 8.3 percent from the same period a year earlier, the company announced.

Food sales were up 5.4 percent and clothing, footwear, gifts and home goods rose 10.4 percent.

"We are pleased to see our customers responding to the better appeal, quality and availability of our clothing as well as the store environment," chairman and chief executive Luc Vandevelde said.

He said he would not assume the retail market would maintain its current strength. But he added that he believed the chain's recovery was on track.

"We have made good progress but we clearly have a long way to go and can do a lot better," he said.

Marks & Spencer began to struggle in the late 1990s, but posted a 20 percent half–year profit increase in November.