M&S: not just any meltdown
Jul 12, 2012
Marks & Spencer has reported its worst quarterly trading since the depths of the financial crisis three years ago. Non-food like-for-like UK sales fell by 6.8% year-on-year in the 13 weeks to 30 June. Domestic food sales gained 0.6% and overall sales slid by 2.8%.
The group announced that Kate Bostock, the head of clothing, will leave the firm – succeeded by John Dixon, who currently runs the food division. Belinda Earl, formerly of Debenhams, will join M&S as a part-time style director.
What the commentators said
“This is not just any retail meltdown; it’s an M&S retail meltdown,” as Liam O’Brien put it in The Independent. The weather and subdued consumption haven’t helped, but the core issue is the clothes.
The crucial womenswear division is not up to scratch. It “suffers from a lack of focus, targeting and generally poor in-store merchandising”, said Neil Saunders of the consultancy Conlumino. The menswear is equally uninspiring, said Tom Chivers on Telegraph.co.uk. M&S “is like… C&A circa 1992; everything feels...like your mum would buy it for you.”
The management change looks “less than convincing”, said Damian Reece in The Daily Telegraph. “The fact that... the country’s largest clothing retailer can’t find a clothing retailer to run its clothes shops is an indictment.”
Investors will now keep a very close eye on clothing, said Lex in the FT, but given the new arrivals it will be a year before we can assess the division’s progress.
Continued progress in the “intensely competitive” food market is “just as crucial”. If that falters too, “then M&S will start to look like it is past its sell-by date”.
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