NPD and party food helped Marks & Spencer notch up like-for-like food sales growth of 3.3% in the first quarter of the new financial year.

Ahead of the retail giant’s AGM today, chief executive Marc Bolland said M&S had been “well placed” to help customers seeking “better value alternatives to eating out”. He also claimed shoppers had turned to M&S for party food over the Royal Wedding.

Total food sales rose 5% in the 13 weeks to 2 July.

UK like-for-like sales grew by 1.7% over the period, while sales across the group as a whole increased by 3.2%.

“We expect trading conditions to remain challenging due to pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes and higher commodity prices,” Bolland warned.

“As a result, we remain cautious about the outlook. Our focus will be on remaining competitive and offering our customers great value and quality at a time when they are managing their budgets carefully.”

Meanwhile, Unite is planning a ‘song and dance’ protest at the retailer’s annual meeting, to be held in London this afternoon.

The trade union is protesting over allegations of low pay and insecure labour at M&S supplier Thanet Earth. Protesters are planning to form a so-called flash-mob following similar stunts at M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores.

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