CLOTHING sales at one of Gloucestershire’s top retailers have begun to recover.
Marks and Spencer, which has stores in Gloucester and Cheltenham, said it was showing signs of encouraging improvement in clothing, with like-for-like sales up by 0.6 per cent.
The figures count sales at stores that have been open for more than a year and strip out sales at stores that have only recently opened in order to give a more accurate comparison.
The changes follow the hiring of Belinda Earl as head of style in 2012. The former chief executive of Debenhams and Jaeger was charged with regenerating M&S’s reputation among its core, female fashion customers.
The 130-year-old chain launched a new autumn and winter women’s fashion range, backed by a large advertising campaign to boost its flagging clothing sales which was showcased at the Gloucester store in Eastgate Street.
Shopper Hillary Smith, who regularly shops at the Gloucester store, said: “I visit this store more than any other store. I buy food and clothes from here, as do my family.”
Chief executive Marc Bolland, left, said: “We delivered another quarter of improvement in general merchandise.
“Clothing sales were up 1.3 per cent in total, up 0.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
“We are encouraged by womenswear, which is showing clear signs of improvement and performed ahead of clothing.
“Our food business had another great quarter, especially considering the later timing of Easter.
“This marks our 18th consecutive quarter of growth. We continued to outperform the market with record sales around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.”
Most analysts still expect pre-tax profits to fall six per cent to £623m when annual results are published on May 20.