Food sales at Marks and Spencer rose 5.4% for the 11 weeks to September 27 while general merchandise sales were at the lower end of market expectations.

M&S said like-for-like food sales were up 1.6% and “remained strong” boosted by new food selling space and the continued roll out of its Simply Food format.

Total sales were up 2.6% or 0.6% like-for-like.

Chief executive Roger Holmes said the Simply Food operation had been “well received” by customers.

Holmes noted that second quarter sales of clothing had seen “reasonable” growth but added that homeware sales had fallen 1.7%, in a sector “driven by promotional activity”.