Marks & Spencer has reported a 4% jump in like-for-like food sales in the fourth quarter, but its clothing business continued to struggle.

The retailer said today its total UK like-for-likes rose 0.6% during the 13 weeks to 30 March, which contrasts with a 1.8% drop in the previous quarter.

Like-for-like sales of general merchandise, which includes clothing and homeware, fell by 3.8%.

Investments in online and mobile helped grow multichannel sales 22.9% and international sales 7%.

“We are working hard on improving our performance in general merchandise and, despite difficult trading conditions, we made progress in our operational execution,” said M&S CEO Marc Bolland.

“We delivered an excellent result in food, with performance well ahead of the market, as customers continued to trust us for provenance and quality. We are increasingly seen as the destination shop for special occasions.”

John Mercer, senior retail analyst at Mintel, said that a “key plank” of Bolland’s strategy for M&S was to excel as a multichannel retailer. “But multichannel is no panacea - especially if your product isn’t right. We think M&S needs a more wide-ranging overhaul that tackles short-term product issues as well as the weakness of its position as midmarket monolith in an age of more targeted propositions,” he said.

M&S shares rose 3% to 396p in early trading on Thursday.