The timing of Easter, a nostalgic ad campaign and an improved performance from its food business have helped first-quarter sales at MARKS AND SPENCER, the UK retailer.

M&S said today (1 July) that group turnover rose 2.9% during the 13 weeks to 27 June. Sales in the UK were up 1.7%, with food sales rising 2%.

On a like-for-like basis, UK sales were down 1.4%, while food sales dipped 0.5% but the results marked an improvement on M&S’s last quarterly results published in March. During the last quarter of the retailer’s previous fiscal year, UK like-for-like sales fell 4.2%, with food sales down 3.7% on the same basis.

M&S said its moves to “improve value, availability and product innovation” had seen its food business deliver “better performance” for the thid successive quarter.

Chairman Sir Stuart Rose added: “We are pleased with the improving trend in our performance. This demonstrates that the actions we are taking are working.”

Internationally, M&S’s sales jumped 15.9%.

Shares in M&S were up 3.6% at 317p at 09:26 BST this morning.