General merchandise sales at Marks & Spencer declined 0.4 per cent in the six months to end September, though the retailer made gains in food and online.

Like-for-like GM sales—which takes in its furniture and home offer as well as apparel—fell 1.2 per cent, though the retailer said it had made gross margin gains as a result of more direct sourcing.

Group revenue climbed 1 per cent to £4.95bn, boosted by a 3.3 per cent rise in food revenues, while online sales climbed by more than a third at 34.2 per cent.

Half year pre-tax profit was down 22.7 per cent to £216m, adversely impacted by £68m in non-underlying items including charges related to an insurance mis-selling provision and UK and International store review charges.

Underlying profits were up 6.1 per cent, Marks & Spencer said.