M&S disappoints after clothing sales decline for 10th consecutive quarter as rival Ted Baker surges


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The Independent Online

Both are retailers keen to offer top-end, high-quality clothing at affordable prices to affluent and aspiring shoppers.

However, the contrast between Ted Baker and Marks & Spencer could not be more different based on their Christmas performance.

M&S, which has been striving to offer more top-end fashion including a new menswear range launched this week, saw its general merchandise sales fall 2.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis for the 13 weeks to December 28 compared with a year earlier.

It introduced heavy discounting in the run-up to Christmas, with chief executive Marc Bolland defending the decision by pointing to rivals such as Gap and H&M.

By comparison, Ted Baker steadfastly refused to introduce discounting until Boxing Day and benefited from the move as sales jumped 18.3 per cent  in the eight weeks to January 4. The equivalent M&S period saw general merchandise sales rise just 1.5 per cent.

Chief executive Ray Kelvin said the decision and good results reflected “the strength of the brand and quality and design of our product.”