MARKS AND SPENCER today (7 October) posted a 6.5% sales increase for the second quarter as the retailer saw “customers return to quality”.

The UK-based chain’s food operations posted 5.2% sales growth for the quarter ended 2 October.

Like-for-like sales were up 5.3% in the UK, but grew more slowly within its food operations, rising 3.7%.

New chief executive Marc Bolland said: “Customers are returning to quality. In food they are responding well to our better value and innovation, and in clothing are increasingly choosing M&S’s great fashions and quality that lasts.”

The company said that food market share was up 10bps to 3.7% as more customers chose M&S “attracted by our improved value and continued investment in innovation”.

However, the company said trading conditions are likely to become more challenging as consumers’ disposable incomes come under greater pressure from increased VAT rates and public spending cuts. “As a result we remain cautious about the outlook for the remainder of this year and next,” the company said.

Shares in M&S were down 0.9% at 387.2p at 09:12 BST this morning.

Click here for the retailer’s full results. Check back later for further insights into the retailer’s results.