Marks & Spencer said bakery remained a key focus area as it posted news of strong food sales in its fourth-quarter (Q4) trading statement this week.

The retailer has been rolling out a new look across its 465 instore bakeries, with the process now nearing completion, a spokesman told British Baker.

He commented: “Bakery has been a very important focus for us since 2010; we have been adding new-look bakeries and extending product ranges with more artisan breads.”

He said bakery had contributed to an “excellent performance on food” in the 13 weeks to 29 March 2014.

In the trading update M&S said its total food sales were up 2.5%, and 0.1% like-for-like. Adjusting for impact of later Easter timing, its total food sales were +4.2%, like-for like +1.8%, it calculates. Group sales were up 1.9% and total sales up 1.5% or -0.2% like-for-like.

The company said it was well set up for the coming Easter season, a third of the Easter food range is new this year and it has more choice than ever before, it said.

Announcing the results, chief executive Marc Bolland said: “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 key events, including Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.”

A spokesman added: “These are very strong results, against tough comparatives, last time round Q4 included Easter, and we are up on that this time.”

Marks & Spencer will report its full-year results on 20 May 2014.