UK food and clothing retailer Marks & Spencer today (Tuesday) reported falls in total sales for the fourth quarter ended 2 April 2005 and for the whole year, although food sales are up.

Total sales in the quarter were down 2.3% with sales for the year 2.0% lower. Food sales were up 1.2% in the quarter with food sales for the year up 2.3%

"The trading environment continues to be difficult," said chief executive Stuart Rose. "The company is going through substantial change and we believe we are making progress tackling the underlying issues that we face."

"Overall, food sales are growing and market share has been maintained," the company said. While like-for-like food sales in our major city centre stores have declined, sales at Simply Food (M&S's food only stores) and food sales out-of-town remain strong."

The company said it now expected that profit before tax and exceptional items for 04/05 would be in the range of £610-625m (US$1.15-1.18bn).