M&S posts best non-food sales outcome in four years

British retailer Marks & Spencer on Thursday posted its best non-food sales performance for nearly four years as it started to put its online distribution problems behind it.

The firm said sales of general merchandise, spanning clothing, footwear and homewares, at stores open over a year rose 0.7 percent in the 13 weeks to March 28, its fiscal fourth quarter.

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The outcome was the first time in 15 quarters M&S has not posted a fall in non-food like-for-like sales.

It was also better than analysts' average forecast of down 1.2 percent and followed a third quarter decline of 5.8 percent, which reflected unseasonal weather in October and November and disruption at its e-commerce distribution centre in December.

Like-for-like sales in M&S's food business rose 0.7 percent - a 22nd straight quarterly rise.