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Massive slump in M&S takings

RETAIL giant Marks and Spencer recorded a massive slump in clothing sales over the Christmas period.

The retailer, which has over 20 stores across Ireland, said that the fall is the largest decline since 2011.

The company has pushed for the discount-driven market but in the 13 weeks to December 29, revenues fell by 3.8pc.

However, food sales at stores which have been in operation for at least a year rose by 0.3pc.

The group said the launch of over 700 new products had helped it to achieve record sales of almost £330m (€405m) in the two key Christmas trading weeks.

It said its free next-day store collection initiative helped push online sales up 10.8pc in the period, with sales from mobile phones and tablet computers up 90pc.The results come in contrast to other retail giants Next and John Lewis, which both reported strong sales growth over the Christmas period.

The results from M&S compare with those from Debenhams, which earlier this week said that sales rose by 2.9pc, as it offered more money-off to shoppers already strapped for cash.

"In terms of profitability, we made a clear choice not to chase sales at the expense of profit," chief executive officer Marc Bolland said.