Marks & Spencer has reported like-for-like sales fell 4.2 per cent in its fourth quarter, but the retailer's performance was better than feared.
In the 13 weeks to March 28 like-for-like sales in its food division fell 3.7 per cent and M&S said that this improved performance had been buoyed by better ranges and offers such as its Dine In deals.
Group sales were up 1.9 per cent. International sales grew 23 per cent with online sales up 20 per cent.
M&S chairman Sir Stuart Rose, who has faced increasing pressure in recent weeks over his level of power in the business, said: "While the outlook remains uncertain, we are confident that we are doing the right things for our customers and for our business."
Clothing sales fell 1 per cent for M&S but it said that it had maintained its market share in apparel for the full year.
Rose said: "In February, we introduced Portfolio and are pleased with the customer response to this new brand which we believe significantly enhances our womenswear offer."
He added that its market share in childrenswear had hit a seven-year high in terms of value and volume.
Separately, it is reported that insurance entrepreneur Clive Cowdery was approached last summer to join the board of M&S. According to the Financial Times, Cowdery said he was too busy for the role and did not take the matter further.
Cowdery, who is currently the subject of an investigation by the Financial Services Authority, was understood to have been approached in an effort to bolster its corporate governance. The move came after M&S clashed with shareholders over its decision to make Sir Stuart Rose chairman and chief executive, a direct contravention of the UK's standards of good governance.