Marks & Spencer is not planning a repeat of January's closure of 27 stores, finance director Ian Dyson told The Grocer, although he admitted "the shape" of the business was still "not right".

The retailer had not scaled back its ambitions for Simply Food, which made up 25 of the closures, he said, and M&S would continue to grow its business through franchises in the next 18 months. "The speed of that roll-out meant we had 25 stores that weren't working, so we pruned those stores, but we are still very committed to Simply Food and rolling it out, working with BP, Moto and railway stations," he said.

"The shape [of Simply Food] is not right, but if you're thinking does that mean we're going to close a lot more stores, the answer is no. But we will always be looking at how we churn the estate."

Lower prices and hundreds of new products this week helped the retailer produce better-than-expected sales figures for the fourth quarter.

UK like-for-like sales in the 12 weeks to 28 March were down 4.2%, less steep than the -6% to -7% analysts had predicted. Food sales fell 3.7% and Sir Stuart Rose said head of food John Dixon was dealing with "the issues about innovation, value, cataloguing, availability and waste".