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Britain's M&S says turnaround making progress as Christmas sales edge higher

LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - British retailer Marks & Spencer reported a slight rise in underlying sales in its Christmas quarter, indicating its latest attempt at a turnaround is showing some tentative progress.

M&S, one of the best known names on the UK high street, said on Thursday its overall like-for-like sales rose 0.2% in the 13 weeks to Dec. 28, its fiscal third quarter.

It said food sales rose 1.4%, ahead of analysts’ average forecast of a 1.1% increase. Clothing and home sales fell 1.7%, below consensus expectations of a 0.8% decline but much better than the previous quarter’s 5.7% fall.

M&S said its full year guidance was unchanged, although gross margins were expected to be around the lower end of guidance, largely offset by cost reductions.

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