UK retail group Marks & Spencer said that trading conditions in its first quarter had been volatile because of rising interest rates, extreme weather conditions and uncertainty over consumer spending.


In its first-quarter trading statement, the retailer said that like-for-like sales in the UK grew by 2.0%, with food sales up by 0.7%. General merchandise sales rose by 2.9%, with international sales up by 14.8%.


M&S said the growth was achieved against strong prior-year comparatives and at a time when around 3m sq ft of trading space was being disrupted by the company’s store refurbishment programme.


CEO Stuart Rose said: “Rising interest rates, general uncertainty over consumer spending, and extreme weather conditions combined to make market conditions particularly volatile over the quarter.


“We believe that the short term trading environment will remain very challenging, but our plans are unchanged. We are confident that our focus on product, service and environment and our investment in the brand will ensure we continue to make progress.”