UK food and clothing retailer Marks and Spencer has said it expects group profit before tax and exceptionals for the 26 weeks to 1 October to be at or around the upper end of market expectations.

For the second quarter, the company said UK retail sales up 3.3% in total, with food sales rising 6.3%. Like-for-like sales were up 1.3% in the second quarter compared with a decrease of 5.4% last quarter. Food like-for-like sales were up 2.7% compared with an increase of 0.7% last quarter.

"Our focus is on profitable full price sales, better buying and tight control of stocks and costs…Food continues to make progress and has delivered another quarter of like-for-like growth, driven by product innovation and availability," the company said.

M&S said the outlook for the full year profit performance will depend on trading in the important third quarter.

"This is an encouraging performance, but there remains much to be done. The environment remains very difficult and we have the important Christmas trading period ahead. We are making progress. We are listening to our customers and feedback has been positive. The product is getting better, our stores are looking better. We are offering our customers better value. This will remain our focus," said CEO Stuart Rose.