Marks & Spencer (M&S) delivered an “excellent” performance on food in its fourth quarter as food sales were up 3.7%. 

Like-for-like food sales were up 0.7%, outperforming the food market. The retailer attributed its growth in food to its “specialist positioning” to produce results, despite a “difficult, deflationary quarter” for the food market. It also enjoyed record Valentine’s Day trading and launched more than 350 new products over the quarter – 13 weeks to 28 March 2015.

Total sales were up 2.7% and like-for-likes up 0.7%, including the company’s M& and general merchandise arms.

A statement said: “Against the backdrop of recovering consumer confidence, but continuing low inflation, our strategy remains to become an international multi-channel retailer with focus on: general merchandise gross margin and sales, cash flow and continuing growth in food sales.”

Marc Bolland, chief executive, said: “We have made strong progress over the quarter. In food we delivered another excellent performance, with sales growth ahead of the market. M& has returned to growth, as planned, with further improvement in customer metrics.”

Full year results will be reported on 20 May 2015.