Marks & Spencer has announced a 0.9% rise in like-for-like half year food sales, with a “marked improvement” in the second quarter, driven by price reductions across high volume lines.

marks and spencer m&s

Total revenue grew by 1.2% in the 26 weeks ending 28 September 2019, rising to 3.3% - and 1.4% like-for-like growth - in the second quarter.

The retailer claimed the second quarter revenue growth was outperforming the market.

Over the past year the price of more than 400 high-volume lines has been reduced by over 10% and promotional participation has nearly halved. Investment was focused on core categories such as bakery, milk, meat and produce, with vitamin D-rich bread reduced from £1.15 to 65p, for example.

Pre-tax profit increased by 51.5% to £153.5m, due to lower net adjusting items in the period compared to prior year.

In August the M&S acquisition of 50% of Ocado Retail was completed, at a cost of £749.2m.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “Our transformation plan is now running at a pace and scale not seen before at Marks & Spencer. For the first time we are beginning to see the potential from the far reaching changes we are making.

“The Food business is outperforming the market. Our deal to create a joint venture with Ocado is complete and plans to transition to the M&S range are on track.”