Rose: no growth for retail in 2010

M&S posts first underlying sales rise for two years, but figures trail those of rivals

Sir Stuart Rose has said that the UK retail market will not grow this year, as uncertainty over how the next government will tackle the public deficit hangs over consumer spending.

The chairman of Marks & Spencer made his comments as the high street bellwether delivered its first increase in UK underlying sales for more than two years yesterday, though the figures were marginally below City expectations and behind those posted by fashion rival Next and the department store John Lewis.

Sir Stuart said he was unable to shed any more light on when the incoming chief executive Marc Bolland, who holds the same role at Morrisons, will be released by the grocer, but said it would be "towards late spring".

For the 13 weeks to 26 December, M&S posted UK like-for-like sales – which strip out the impact of new space – up by 0.8 per cent, compared to a slump of 7.1 per cent for the same period a year ago. Sir Stuart added that if the period had included the first day of its Christmas sale on 27 December, its underlying sales would have been a full percentage point higher. However, the City was disappointed by the update and M&S shares were the biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 yesterday.

Sir Stuart said there was a "phoney war" going on between the main political parties over policies to tackle the public deficit of £178bn ahead of the general election.

"We all know that we have got some medicine coming but we don't know what the doctor is going to give us," Sir Stuart said. "Whether it is government A or B, either one has said they cannot balance the books. This will have an effect on consumer expenditure, which means the total retail market will not grow [this year]."

Group sales at M&S grew by 2.6 per cent. Its international division posted modest growth of 6 per cent over the 13 weeks, hit by the dire market in Ireland and Greece.

Credit Suisse described M&S's trading figures as "disappointing" compared to the performance from Next. Its fashion rival delivered underlying sales up by 3.2 per cent for the 22 weeks to 24 December, which also did not include sales recorded on the first day of its clearance sale.

Streaking ahead of both retailers is the department store John Lewis, which has unveiled like-for-like sales up 12.7 per cent for the five weeks to 2 January. M&S's food division grew underlying sales by 0.4 per cent over the 13 weeks to 26 December, although it was up against dire figures last year when sales tanked by 5.2 per cent.

According to Nielsen, Waitrose grew its sales by 13.6 per cent, compared to 3.7 per cent at M&S, for the 12 weeks to 26 December. However, Sir Stuart said he was not "overly-exercised" by Waitrose. "We have got the food business on the front foot," he said. "We are confident that we can keep that going and John Dixon [the executive director of food] and his team have done a good job."

He said that M&S's food arm had delivered its biggest ever fortnight and a record £50m of sales on 23 December. But Tony Shiret, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said: "What is really an issue in food is that there does not seem to be a long-term sense from which they will start to move it forward again."

The retailer's general merchandise division, dominated by clothing, delivered like-for-like sales up by 1.2 per cent. While M&S has been helped by the recent cold spell, it had to close 56 stores on Tuesday because of the arctic conditions. But since the beginning of December, the retailer's sales of thermals are up 29 per cent and it sold three cashmere jumpers every minute in the last two weeks before Christmas. Overall, Sir Stuart said: "Kidswear was the best performer."

Morrisons declined to comment last night on when it would allow Mr Bolland to join M&S. Sir Stuart said: "I don't know any more than you do, it is a matter between Marc and Morrisons... I am not expecting him to join in the next two months."

Sir Stuart will serve as chairman for a period after Mr Bolland joins, but has said he will step down completely before July 2011 at the latest.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
Life and Style
love + sex
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot