Marks & Spencer’s (M&S’) food offering has performed well, with total UK sales up 3.9% against a fall in sales of general merchandise, for the half year to 1 October 2011.

Like-for-like sales in its food division rose 2.1% for the period, while M&S’ group sales (excluding VAT) were up 2.4% to £4.7bn.

Among its operational highlights were that it had introduced 900 new food lines in its stores, delivering more choice through innovation.

In September this year Marc Bolland, chief executive of the retailer, revealed that 16 stores were to benefit from new-style in-store bakeries as part of a £600m plan to revamp its outlets, as it aims to “catch up” with its competition.

Bolland commmented: “Marks & Spencer performed well in the first half. Sales were ahead of last year, despite tough comparatives and a challenging economic environment. Our food business, in particular, performed strongly. We maintained our share of the clothing and food markets.”

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