MARKS & SPENCER CEOS! – Sir Richard Greenbury got it! Luc Van der Welde didn’t get it; Lord Rose didn’t get it; Marc Bolland certainly did not get it! Let’s hope Steve Rowe gets it. Time is not on his side. It’s all about the fashions. Mr Rowe, Sir! M&S’S fashions are dire! In fairness Kate Bostock stayed beyond her ‘sell-by date.’ Belinda Earl did not come from a fashionable emporium (Debenhams). Why was she chosen? Frankly she does not look up to it and has had plenty of time to improve matters. The fashions remain dowdy and against a very competitive high Street appear to be on the expensive side. I fully admit that I am hardly known for my sartorial elegance – in fact most people who know me would describe me as a badly wrapped present lost in a double breasted suit that does not fit! However being married to fine looking mare with two daughters that have decent confirmation and walk well in the paddock, I know about attractive fashion.
The situation is now acute and the high street is running out of patience. Steve Rowe and his team can tinker about with the layout of the shops all they like and have clever advertising campaigns, but if the stock on the shelves has no appeal, when they are up against H&M, Primark, Top Shop, Zara and others, they have no chance! It’s time for surgery. The medicine has not worked – so the knife must come out and do its worst.
OK the profits were up 4.8% at £689 million on a turnover of £10.6 billion in the last year. However costs have not been severe enough. Like for like sales for the year on clothes and merchandising were down 2.9% and food sales only increased 0.2% on a like for like basis. International sales were also down. There was a £150 million share buyback – no one is buying that, despite a slightly better dividend. M&S has only made £1 billion profits twice – in 1997 and 2007. How have the mighty fallen. Shares were down 9.5% at 404p at 3.40pm. Steve Rowe came across well but he has inherited a hospital pass, but he must have known that having been responsible for general merchandising! Time for wholesale action – Off with their heads!