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Retail

Marks & Spencer Weighed Down by Cool May

Marks & Spencer Group Plc’s clothing sales went back into decline in the first quarter, snapping a brief respite as May’s cool weather gave shoppers reason to delay refilling their summer wardrobes.

Same-store sales of general merchandise, a division that mostly comprises apparel, fell 0.4 percent in the 13 weeks ended June 27, the London-based retailer said in a statement Tuesday. That compares with the median estimate of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News for a 0.7 percent decline.

Britain’s coolest May since 1996 dealt a blow to clothing retailers as some shoppers held back on purchases of t-shirts and shorts. For M&S, the weather provided a setback in its efforts to revive sales that saw general-merchandise revenue in the previous quarter increase for the first time since 2011.

Marks & Spencer shares rose 1.6 percent to 547 pence in London on Monday, extending this year’s advance to 14 percent.

In its food and drink business, M&S continued to outperform a shrinking U.K. grocery market. Same-store sales rose 0.3 percent, compared with the 0.5 percent growth projected by analysts.

M&S reiterated its annual forecasts for gross margins in general merchandise to expand by between 1.5 and 2 percentage points, adding that all full-year guidance remains unchanged.

Bloomberg News, edited by Checkout

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