Mark and Spencer Group Plc (M&S) saw a “steady performance in difficult markets” in its trading statement for the 13 weeks to 29th December 2018.

In food, the retailer saw like-for-like revenue decrease 2.1%.

Six months ago M&S started on a journey to re-engineer its range and value proposition, and is now said to be making good progress.

It reports early signs of volume growth, and confirms it expects to see more momentum under a new management team as the year progresses.

Customers responded well to its Christmas ranges and campaign, resulting in volume growth over the Christmas period, with the majority of stores delivering like-for-like revenue growth.

Steve Rowe, chief executive, said: “Against the backdrop of well publicised difficult market conditions our performance remained steady across the period.

“Our food business traded successfully over Christmas as customers responded to improved value. Our transformation programme remains on track.”

According to the retailer, a combination of “reducing consumer confidence, mild weather, Black Friday and widespread discounting by competitors” made November a very challenging trading period.

However, planned reduction in stock carrying levels meant that stock into sale was the lowest in five years.

International revenue reflects the impact from the sale of its Hong Kong business to its franchise partner and the closure of stores in loss making exit markets.

Excluding these effects, International revenue decreased 1.4% at constant currency largely due to the timing of franchise shipments and investment in improved pricing.

The full year guidance remains unchanged, and the retailer will report its full year results on 22nd May 2019.