Sir Stuart Rose has called for a cut in interest rates in order to boost consumer confidence and kick-start spending on the high street.

The Marks & Spencer executive chairman said a cut in interest rates would be “enormously helpful” to retailers and urged governments to restore stability to the banking sector.

Rose made the plea as M&S yesterday announced its latest set of financial results, with a slump in food sales contributing to disappointing numbers for the high street giant. Like-for-like food sales dipped by 6% as total sales edged up by just 0.4%.

Rose promised to cut capital expenditure by £200m and to bring down food prices as he sought to arrest the declines. The 'Dine in for two for £10' offer had been a "spectacular success" he added, "but the less core customer has migrated away from us and we've got to find ways of getting them back in".

Meanwhile, the group has opened its first store in China, with thousands of shoppers reportedly massing to visit a new 40,000 sq ft premises in Shanghai – a store that represents M&S’ largest retail outlet in Asia.

Among the few highlights for M&S in yesterday’s results was the growth of its international business by 24% over the period.