UK retailer Marks and Spencer today (8 April) posted its sixth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth, boosted by Christmas revenues.

M&S's UK like-for-like sales increased by 5.1% during the period, with total sales up 4.8%.

Food sales, however, lagged gains in general merchandise and online, increasing just 1.8%.

Nevertheless, M&S remained upbeat on the prospects for its food business, insisting that growth had been driven by better value, availability and product innovation.

“We continue to be first to market with exciting new ranges such as ‘Simply Fuller Longer’ and are on track to launch over 1,500 new lines this year,” M&S said in its trading statement this morning.

International sales fell 5.9% as a result of difficult trading conditions in Ireland and Greece. Foreign exchange also had an adverse impact on international sales, the company added.

While chairman Sir Stuart Rose said that the company has weathered the immediate impact of the recession, he added that M&S remains cautious on the outlook for 2010-11.

"We hope that after the election there will be greater clarity on economic policy and how this will impact our customers individually,” he said.

The company said it expects to report pre-tax profits of GBP620m (US$941.9m) to GBP630m for the year to 27 March.

For the full trading update from M&S click here and click here for coverage of Sir Stuart Rose's media call.