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
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?