Marks and Spencer has seen like-for-like food sales rise 5.1% in the first quarter boosted by the continued roll out of its Simply Food stores.

For the 15 weeks to July 12 total sales at M&S were up 5.4% or 3.8% on a like-for-like basis.

Food sales rose 8.1% and were “ahead of the market” according to M&S and added that food inflation for the quarter was approximately 1.5%.

M&S’ chief executive,Roger Holmes, said that food continues to outperform the market through the ongoing development of products and “with the strong performance of Simply Food stores which are now opening at the rate of one a week”.

In clothing, footwear and gifts, sales were up 3.9%, while in the home section, sales were down 1.4% due to the underperformance of furniture, the company said.

In the general division, sales were up 3.4%, or 2.8% on a like-for-like basis.