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LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) - British retailer Marks & Spencer on Tuesday posted an eighth consecutive quarterly fall in underlying sales of general merchandise, though the outcome did represent a slowing in the rate of decline.
The performance will ratchet up the pressure on management to deliver a swift turnaround when new season ranges start hitting the shops later this month.
The 129-year-old group, which serves 21 million customers a week from 766 British stores, said sales of non-food products, spanning clothing, footwear and homewares, at stores open over a year fell 1.6 percent in the 13 weeks to June 29, its fiscal first quarter.
That compared with analyst forecasts of a fall of 0.2 percent to 3.0 percent, according to a company poll of 10, and a decline of 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of the group's 2012-13 financial year.
M&S's food business, which contributes over half of group sales, is performing much better.
Its sales on the same basis rose 1.8 percent versus analyst forecasts of a rise of 1.0 percent to 2.0 percent and an increase of 4.0 percent in the previous quarter.