Marks & Spencer (M&S) has reported an 8.5% increase in food sales for the 13 weeks to 30 June, despite describing market conditions in the period as “particularly volatile”. Like-for-like sales in its food division increased by 0.7% during the period compared to the previous year. The company said it opened 33 more Simply Food stores including 21 on BP forecourts during the period. It currently operates around 230 Simply Food stores in the UK. It said group sales increased by 7%, while UK sales were up 6.4%, and up 2% on a like-for-like basis. Stuart Rose, chief executive, said: “Rising interest rates, general uncertainty over consumer spending, and extreme weather conditions combined to make market conditions particularly volatile over the quarter. “We believe that the short term trading environment will remain very challenging, but our plans are unchanged. We are confident that our focus on product, service and environment and our investment in the brand will ensure we continue to make progress.”