Retailer Marks & Spencer today posted an eighth consecutive quarterly fall in underlying sales of clothing.

The figures will pile pressure on management to deliver a swift turnaround when new ranges start hitting the shops this month.

Chief executive Marc Bolland will later today will face shareholders angered by two years of falling profit at the firm's annual meeting at London's Wembley Stadium.

The CEO is pinning his hopes on a new clothing strategy based on more stylish and higher-quality garments.

Autumn/winter ranges were unveiled in May by his new general merchandise team, led by former M&S food boss John Dixon, and received mostly positive reviews from analysts and the fashion press. That sent M&S shares, which have also been buoyed by bouts of bid speculation, to a five-year high.

The new collections will start to arrive in stores and online from July 25 with a full launch and main advertising push in September.

Investors have said there could be pressure for Bolland to go if the new autumn ranges do not set the tills ringing. They will want to see signs of a pick-up when M&S updates on second-quarter sales on November 5, while a much improved Christmas trading performance is imperative for the Dutchman's survival.

However, Bolland again cautioned the market not to expect too much, too soon.

The 129-year-old group said sales of non-food products, spanning clothing, footwear and homewares, at stores open over a year fell 1.6% in the 13 weeks to June 29, its fiscal first quarter. That compared with analyst forecasts for a fall of 0.2-3%, according to a company poll of 10, and a decline of 3.8% in the fourth quarter of the group's 2012-13 financial year.

"Despite challenging trading conditions and further intensification of promotional activity in the market we saw some improvements over the quarter," Marc Bolland said, though he noted market share did dip slightly.

Sales data for the first quarter will be the last to fully reflect garments purchased by the previous buying team.

Though the first quarter outcome represented M&S's best non-food performance since the same time in 2011, when like-for-like sales were flat, the firm did benefit from easy comparative numbers, as in the first quarter of its last financial year like-for-like sales had slumped 6.8%.

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% versus analyst forecasts for a rise of 1-2% and an increase of 4% in the previous quarter.

The slowdown in growth there reflected Easter falling in M&S's first quarter in 2012 but in its fourth quarter in 2013 making comparative numbers much tougher.

The food business is benefiting from new products, a focus on providing for special occasions and M&S avoiding any involvement in a scandal over foods found to contain horsemeat when they were labelled as containing other meats.

Separately today, an industry survey showed British retail sales rose an underlying 1.4% in June as warmer weather tempted shoppers into stores.