Marks & Spencer is set to announce an improved performance for the past three months when it unveils its fourth-quarter results later this week.

City analysts expect the high street icon to unveil a rise in underlying sales of 1.7% for the period – an improvement on growth of 0.7% for the previous quarter.

The announcement will be the last with Sir Stuart Rose as executive chairman, with former Morrisons boss Marc Bolland set to take the reins from May.

Around 70,000 M&S workers will share in a bonus pool of up to £80m, receiving an average of £500 apiece.

Meanwhile, “savage discounting” symptomatic of a “painful election run-up for retailers” took centre stage over the Easter weekend.

Sainsbury’s slashed wine, lamb, gammon and pork by 50%, while Tesco cut prices on salmon, lamb and non-food items including electricals.

Waitrose reaped the benefits of its Heston and Deli-inspired price pork and rhubarb offers, with sales soaring by 4000% and 2000% respectively.

A senior figure at one supermarket told the Sunday Times the battle between retailers was “as vicious as I’ve ever seen it”, with consumer spending being hit by fears of tax rises.

“Business is tougher, VAT is back on, the election is coming and there is a huge fight for market share,” he said.

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