Marks & Spencer hails turnaround success after bumper Christmas sales

Asked if high street stores were in a state of managed decline, Mr Rowe said: “Overall, the trajectory is for a third of the [clothes] business to be online… one day it will be 50pc, we continue to see it grow. Over a longer period of time store sales will be lower.”

However, he added that larger shops in retail parks outperformed stores in city centres during the period, and the Simply Food outlets were also doing well.

Like its rival Next, M&S warned of higher prices for clothes and shoes in the coming months as inflation bites and cost pressures build.

Eoin Tonge, the finance chief, said: “There is currently very little in terms of what customers are seeing [price rises], but the tides of inflation are coming as freight and raw materials costs creep higher.

“We’re set up to try to offset it, but inevitably some will be passed on. We will make sure the customers are getting the right value for the products they’re buying.”

The retailer upgraded profits twice this financial year, saying in November that it expected annual profits of about £500m. On Thursday, it said it will make profits of “at least £500m”.

Shares fell more than 7pc to 233p, reflecting investor disappointment that the upgrade to profits was not higher. 

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