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M&S sales lowest in 2 years

As city analysts anticipated, Marks and Spencer on Wednesday confirmed trading conditions will remain "very challenging" after reporting a slowdown in UK sales growth. M&S said UK like-for-like sales - which strip out the impact of new stores - rose 2% in the 13 weeks to 30 June. The increase was the lowest for nearly two years and compared with growth of 8.2% a year ago.

The retailer said rising interest rates and "extreme weather" had combined to make trading volatile in the quarter. Analysts have been predicting a tougher time for all High Street retailers, following five interest rate rises in the past year - and with the wettest June on record dampening sales of summer clothes and food. M&S has enjoyed a renaissance since chief executive Stuart Rose took charge in 2004 - posting a 28.5% increase in annual profit to £965.2m last year - but it has not been able to avoid the tougher trading environment.

"Rising interest rates, general uncertainty over consumer spending, and extreme weather conditions combined to make market conditions particularly volatile over the quarter," Mr Rose said. "We believe that the short term trading environment will remain very challenging, but our plans are unchanged," he added. However, Mr Rose denied that M&S was running out of steam and told the BBC that the figures had to be seen in context.

"You're bound to slow down in real terms if you've made great progress the year before," he said. M&S shares ended Tuesday up 1.4% to 641.5p after City analysts said the trading figures were not as bad as had been feared.
11 June 2007


M&S delivers surprise Q1 results

Marks and Spencer posted stronger than expected first quarter results, hugely surprising the stock market. UK like-for-like sales rose 2 precent – 1 percent higher than expected but still lower than 3.8 percent the previous quarter - while group sales were up 7 percent. UK sales gained 6.4 percent while international sales rose 14.8 percent.

“Rising interest rates, general uncertainty over consumer spending, and extreme weather conditions combined to make market conditions particularly volatile over the quarter,” said chief executive Stuart Rose in a statement. He added that the short term trading environment would “remain very challenging, but our plans our unchanged. We are confident that our focus on product, service and environment and our invest in the brand will ensure we continue to make progress.”

Despite the slowdown, M&S was on track and fared better than some of its rivals, as was indicated by the 2.9 percent increase in UK like-for-like sales of general merchandise.

UK sales were boosted by the many store openings, including 33 new Simply Food shops in the quarter. A major refurbishment scheme did disrupt sales on a large scale. The company aims to have 70 percent of all trading space modernised in time for Christmas season this year.
10 July 2007


M&S Chairman to step down in wake of sliding sales

This week Marks & Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose will report that the company's sales growth has stalled in the wake of difficult trading conditions. Analysts expect first-quarter like-for-like sales to have grown by 0.7 per cent, compared to 3.8 per cent last quarter. It will be the M&S's poorest quarterly sales performance for two years.

Furthermore, George Davies, chairman of M&S Per Una brand, is preparing to stand down later this year, according to the Guardian. Davies will not renew his contract when the current one expires in the late autumn.

"George is nearing the departure lounge. When his contract comes up for renewal he will wind down his commitments," said an executive close to the situation. Per Una accounts for 25 per cent of M&S's womenswear sales and sees annual sales of around £500m. It has brought in much-needed younger shoppers to the retailer.
8 July 2007


M&S on a roll

Marks & Spencer appears to have made a full recovery as annual pre-tax profits approached the £1 billion mark for the first time in eight years. Underlying pre-tax profit soared 28 percent to £965.2 million on sales up 10 percent to £8.6 billion. Operational profits jumped 22 percent to £1.04 billion.

The results signify a windfall for M&S employees. Chief executive Stuart Rose, who confirmed will remain with the company until at least 2009, will be earning two and a half times his salary, or approximately £2.5 million and he said that nearly 70.000 staff would share in a £91 million bonus. He added that several hundred managers could stand to earn a bonus equal to one year's salary.

Rose outlined plans for international expansion and further growth. He said he planned to bring the retailer back to “old Europe” – France, Belgium, Germany and Spain – and would grow the business in India and China. He also said the company will be expanding its portfolio of wholly-owned stores. The main focus will still be on the “core” UK business, “because that's where we got in trouble before.”

Furthermore, thanks to the company's strong performance, it will be creating 10,000 new jobs over the next three years. “Market share has improved in all clothing categories and food,” Rose said in a statement, adding, “We continue to invest in modernising our stores and 70 percent of our store portfolio will be modernised by the end of the year.” The company said modernised store continued to outperform.

Rose also plans to grow its internet business – from current sales of about £85 million to £500 million by 2010 - and, to this end, has appointed Martha Lane Fox as non-executive director. Lane Fox shot to fame in the nineties as co-founder of the highly successful internet business Rose said her advice would be invaluable in growing that side of the business.

In current trading, Rose said the company had enjoyed a good start to the year but warned that the retail environment would become “more challenging”. “Competition remains intense and pressure on consumer spending as a result of interest rate rises will also increase,” he said. Panmure Gordon analyst Philip Dorgan was concerned by a slowdown in sales in the fourth quarter and maintained that M&S would have to work hard to maintain robust results.
23 May 2007

M&S restructures management

Marks & Spencer has restructured its management team with the external appointment of two senior executives. Steven Esom is to join as director of food after stepping down as Waitrose managing director, while Carl Leaver is to become director of international business after previously working as chief executive of hotels group De Vere.Guy Farrant, the present head of M&S food, is being moved to a retail operations position to broaden his business experience, while Anthony Thompson, head of retail operations, will leave the company.

M&S said the changes positioned it for the next phase of its growth, following its dramatic recovery overseen by chief executive Stuart Rose. However, the changes will also be seen as part of plans by Rose to identify and groom his successor. Rose, who removed much of the senior management soon after he took up his role in 2004, does not have any obvious internal candidate to take over the helm.

He pledged at the time of his appointment in 2004 that he would stay with M&S for at least five years, although Rose has never commented on when he might step down.

27 April 2007

M&S welcomes new top executives

Marks and Spencer will be joined by two new senior executives. Steven Esom has quit Waitrose and will head up M&S's food division, while Carl Leaver, former chief executive of De Vere Group, is joining as the new head of the international division. Meanwhile, M&S's current head of food Guy Farrant is moving to a position in retail operations. The current had of retail operations, Anthony Thompson, will leave the company.

Chief executive Stuart Rose is said to be looking for his replacement when he leaves the firm in less than two years. According to the FT, the lack of an obvious candidate is starting to concern him. Sources close to Rose stated that this is now his biggest challenge after having turned the company around. Last year, he formed an executive committee consisting of himself, Farrant, Thompson and Kate Bostock, head of women's wear. Thompson is now leaving the fold, and the other two members have not been singled out as potential candidates. Previously, it was said that M&S was not looking at external candidates, but the recent new senior hires might indicate otherwise.
26 April 2007


High street shuffle

Rumour has it that Terry Green, chief executive of clothing at Tesco, will be joining Marks & Spencer to head up the retailer's burgeoning fashion division. According to various media reports, Green is currently in talks with M&S chief executive Stuart Rose. The two are former colleagues - they worked together at the Burton Group - and friends. Sources did say that the talks were in the early stage.

Green is currently believed to also be renegotiating his contract with Tesco. The supermarket giant revealed in November that it would invest millions of pounds in an expanded range of upmarket fashion in an effort to compete with the likes of M&S, Next and Topshop. "We currently have 3% market share and Marks &Spencer has 9%. We want to close that gap," Green said at the time. A spokeswoman for M&S declined to comment on the speculation.
2 April 2007


M&S supplier in dispute over work conditions

One of Marks & Spencer's main overseas clothes suppliers is embroiled in a recognition battle with a trade union affiliated to an opposition Islamist party in Morocco. According to the Guardian, the dispute is disrupting production and has led to arrests of its workforce. The British company Dewhirst, which closed factories in the UK and transferred production of womenswear to Tangier in Morocco in 2002, is in dispute over conditions, pay and claims that it discriminates against unionists.

The Union Nationale du Travail au Maroc (UNTM) is backed in Britain by the GMB union, which is supporting 486 sacked workers, mostly women. Both M&S and Dewhirst said they were mystified by the Moroccan union's action and claimed that wages and conditions at the factories, which employ some 1,400 people, were good. M&S sent local managers to check conditions at the factory and decided the company treated staff well.

Marks & Spencer stated: "Dewhirst is a long-term supplier of M&S and has a strong history in managing labour standards in its factories ... local M&S managers visited the factory to investigate the matter further and found no evidence of poor labour practices. We would not work with a supplier if we considered any serious labour standard issues, such as those being claimed, were found." Paul Kenny, of the GMB, said: "When M&S moved this work away from GMB members in the UK we warned them that their quest for cheap clothes would lead to exploitation of workers in places like China and north Africa."
19 March 2007


M&S not bidding for Sainsbury's

Marks & Spencer was last night forced to issue a statement ruling out a bid for the supermarket chain J Sainsbury after a comment by chief executive, Stuart Rose, as was reported in The Retail Bulletin. At a retail conference yesterday, Stuart Rose is reported to have said that M&S was taking a close look at Sainsbury's and that investors should “watch this space”. That has forced the company to issue a clarifying statement.

“The Board has decided that it does not intend to make an offer for Sainsbury's at this time”. However, the company goes on to reserve the right to make an offer if it gets a recommendation from the board of Sainsbury's or if the VC consortium (or anyone else) announces a firm intention to make an offer for Sainsbury's or if there is any material change in circumstances.
1 March 2007


M&S directors leave

Stuart Rose is facing the departure of two key directors in quick succession, according to the Telegraph. Andrew Moore, the 49-year-old director of general merchandise planning, will take early retirement later this month having spent 30 years with the chain.

Matthew Hudson, 38, M&S's director of lingerie, is believed to be on the short-list to become head of clothing at J Sainsbury, the supermarket chain. The timing of the departures could prove irritating for Rose. Moore announced his plans to quit M&S internally last week. He is believed to have become discontented at being sidelined when a "super-directorship" was created amalgamating his role with sourcing and supply chain responsibilities late last year.

That position was awarded to Andrew Skinner. "News of Andrew 's departure raised eyebrows among the old guard. He was a popular guy," said an executive close to M&S.
12 February 2007


M&S ponders Sainsbury acquisition

Shares in Marks & Spencer dipped in early trading on reports that it has been weighing up a bid for supermarket group J Sainsbury , according to This Is Money. Executives at M&S have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of combining two of the biggest names in British retailing, although bankers have not yet been appointed to work on a deal. A source quoted by the Times newspaper stated: “Everyone has been looking at it. I would be surprised if (French supermarket giant) Carrefour aren't looking at it.”

However, M&S chief executive Stuart Rose is said to have reservations about a tie-up, while the private-equity consortium was thought to be pessimistic about the chances for its own deal. M&S shares have doubled in value over the past 20 months and outperformed British retail peers amid a strong recovery in sales and profits under the stewardship of Chief Executive Stuart Rose. The Times said possible advantages of a deal for M&S included gaining access to Sainsbury's property portfolio. It also cited one executive as joking that the M&S brand would survive with a tweak to Marks & Sainsbury.
8 February 2007


M&S directors frustrated with lack of recognition

Anthony Thompson, the retail director of Marks & Spencer, is reported to be leaving the company due to the lack of responsibilities and recognition that he is afforded within the retailer. The former head of Gap's European operations is one of a number of senior M&S directors known to be looking outside the company.

Any top-level defections would be a blow to Rose, who earlier this month hailed M&S's long-awaited "recovery" after it reported strong Christmas sales. Rose has transformed M&S's fortunes since he joined it in the summer of 2004. However sources close to M&S say that there is a "growing sense of unrest" among Thompson and a number of other directors in the tiers below M&S's three-man executive board, which consists of Rose, Steven Sharp, marketing director, and Ian Dyson, finance director.

Some of these executives feel left out of the decision-making process. They also feel that the iconic retailer's dramatic recovery is too often seen by the outside world as solely Rose's doing. "It is not as hunky-dory as it would seem," said one executive close to the retailer. Another said: "No one is denying that Stuart has done an amazing job, but certain people are getting frustrated." " "No one is denying that Stuart has done an amazing job, but certain people are getting frustrated." However an M&S loyalist denied that there were any problems.
29 January 2007


M&S agree to £500 pension fund

Marks & Spencer will contribute £500 to its final salary pension fund via an interest in a property partnership in a new plan. The retailer's defined benefit pension scheme had a deficit of £704m as of March 31 last year. M&S plans to begin consultation with employees "on a range of choices regarding the build up of their pension in the future." M&S will establish a partnership with the pension scheme which will hold M&S properties with a current market value of around £1.1bn.

These properties will be leased back to M&S and a fixed annual distribution to the pension scheme of some £50m will be made out of partnership profits for a 15 year period. “This funding plan enables M&S to make a substantial contribution to the pension scheme which will immediately reduce the deficit, while ensuring that the company's cashflow obligations to the scheme are spread over a manageable period,” M&S said.
24 January 2007


M&S looks to Taiwan market

Marks & Spencer is to launch a joint venture with one of Taiwan's leading retailers, as the UK firm continues to reassert its presence overseas. M&S said it planned to take a 60% stake in the new venture with Taiwan's President Chain Stores. The firms, which have yet to name the joint venture, said they planned to open two outlets in Taiwan this year. M&S withdrew its own-brand stores from foreign markets in 2001, as part of a wide-ranging turnaround programme. Since then, the company's domestic fortunes have recovered, and M&S had been steadily building up its investments overseas.

Going green
President Chain Stores owns the largest network of 7-Eleven stores outside of North America and Japan. Both firms plan to launch their first joint-retail outlet in May at a major shopping complex in Taiwan's second city of Kaohsiung. A senior M&S executive will serve as chairman and president of the new venture, President Chain Stores said. The firms, which remain in talks, declined to reveal the capital value of their joint venture. M&S announced on Monday a £200m ($393m), five-year plan to make the company carbon neutral.
17 January 2007


M&S invests in green retailing

With success comes the burden of responsibility, which high street retailer Marks and Spencer is tackling with a large scale “eco-plan”. The chain, which has been showing clear signs of recovery from a long-term slump, is investing up to £200 million over the next five years in a plan to become carbon neutral – which means not contributing to climate change - and send no waste to landfill by 2012.

"Every business and individual needs to do their bit to tackle the enormous challenges of climate change and waste,” chief executive Stuart Rose said in a statement. “We believe a responsible business can be a profitable business. We are calling this "Plan A" because there is no 'plan B'.” Rose even sat his 150 top executives down to watch Al Gore's “An Inconvenient Truth” last November. The film appears to have had the desired effect. M&S's plans are ambitious, to the say the least, as Rose readily admits. “This is a deliberately ambitious and, in some areas, difficult plan. We don't have all the answers but we are determined to work with our suppliers, partners and Government to make this happen. Doing anything less is not an option."

The company's plans include offering clothing and packaging that does not need to be disposed of, polyester clothing made from recycled plastic bottles, clothes made from Fairtrade cotton, food sourced regionally and food waste used to power its stores. It will also help its suppliers and customers to change their behaviour, for example by helping them make better eating choices in stores.

M&S is raising the standard for other retailers, who have also made ecologically conscious initiatives, although not nearly as large-scale as M&S. “If every retailer in Britain followed Marks & Spencer's lead it would be a major step forward in meeting the challenge of creating a sustainable society," said Blake-Lee Harwood, campaign director for Greenpeace UK.

A spokeswoman for the M&S said: “Due to the ambitious scope of the plan, we have given ourselves five years to deliver. As yet there is no breakdown of the timeline.” She added that M&S is already as leader in the field of ecologically responsible retailing, with the launch of its ‘Look behind the label' campaign last year, telling its customers how its products are sourced and made. “Our decision to embark on this plan has been in response to what our customers want.”
15 January 2007


M&S officially in recovery

Stuart Rose can allow himself a quick moment of reprieve after announcing that Marks & Spencer has competed the first part of its recovery plan. The chief executive revealed that the high street retailer had had a good Christmas. Like-for-like sales for the third quarter ended 30 December rose 5.6 percent, while total sales gained 9.2 percent. General merchandise sales were up 9 percent and food sales increased 9.5 percent. Meanwhile, online sales soared more than 70 percent with more than 9 million visitors during the quarter. International sales increased 18.2 percent.

Rose, who joined the firm as chief executive in 2004, had until now been reluctant to use the word recovery to describe the group's apparent turnaround. Ever cautious, he did say that the company would face tough comparatives in the fourth quarter. Results would be adversely affected by the group's modernisation of its stores. He did add, however, that all staff would be given a bonus “if our performance continues in the fourth quarter.” Shares dropped nearly 2 percent on Rose's sombre outlook.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium has put to rest fears that this past Christmas was the worst in 25 years. According to the BRC sales in December rose 4.4 percent, while House of Fraser, Next and New Look all gave solid performances during the holiday season.
10 January 2007


Fashion for the masses

For those with a keen interest in the history of fashion, a study has been published on the history of clothing at Marks and Spencer. Entitled Fashion for the People , author Rachel Worth examines the evolution of fashion for the masses as developed by M&S. As the starting point for her study, Worth – a principal lecturer in Fashion Studies at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth – begs the question why history and fashion literature have neglected ‘ordinary', ‘real' clothes in favour of couture. With all that has been written about high fashion, which is reserved for a small elite, she attempts to educate the reader on the democratization of fashion. Drawing extensively on company archives, Worth demonstrates how M&S contributed significantly to non-elite fashion's role in a social and cultural context.

Worth emphasizes that the democratization she refers to does not define how mass-produced fashion has allowed a larger section of the population to emulate upper class styles. Instead, she focuses on how companies like M&S redefined fashion by actually creating high street fashion . The developments in garment production and technical advancements offered a more practical approach to fashion. For example, she describes how Terylene skirts were very successful in the 1950s, not just for their competitive pricing, but because the material could be drip-dried and did not need to be ironed. Worth examines how new technologies created new customer demand. She also focuses on the importance of design at M&S and on how its marketing and promotional strategies have affected fashion consumption. Worth concludes that non-elite fashion bridged the social gap between the working classes and the upper classes. Eventually everyone shopped at M&S.

Written for an academic public, this book is not for the casual reader who wants a simple overview of fashion over the last century, accompanied by plenty of pictures. Worth has meticulously researched her subject matter, but the repeated cross-references make for labour-intensive reading. Although the book is about fashion for the masses, it has not been written for them. This study was published by Berg Publishers in 2006 and is available in paperback for £16.99 or in hardback for £50.
3 January 2007


M&S big winner at Drapers Awards

The UK 's leading fashion retailers and brands were recognized by Drapers on Wednesday during a gala dinner in Grosvenor House in London . The prestigious awards ceremony brought together over 1,200 fashion industry members to celebrate UK fashion retailing. The big winners of the evening included retailers Marks and Spencer, Reiss and River Island and brands G-Star, Gant and Oui-Set. Marks and Spencer was awarded Lingerie Retailer of the Year, while ASOS was named eTailer of the Year. The best Value Retailer of the Year was Sainsbury's Tu, the Menswear Brand of the Year went to Gant, the Womenswear Brand of the Year was awarded to Oui-set and Young Fashion Brand of the Year went to G-Star. River Island won Multiple Retailer of the Year. The chain recently opened its first European store in Amsterdam . Michael and Maurice Bennet, founders of the fashion chains Warehouse, Oasis and Coast, were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.

In order to decide the winners in the 19 categories, almost 100 short-listed applicants were visited by the Drapers team. This is the event's 16 th edition.
24 November 2006


M&S introduces wedding dresses

Marks and Spencer has introduced a new collection of bridal and occasionwear, which will hit stores nationwide in March 2007. The collection consists of wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, grooms' suits and occasionwear for guests and attendants. Prices are significantly affordable, with wedding dresses ranging from £59 to £120. Brides-to-be can chose from a range of silhouettes, including full length and knee length skirts, straps and bustier styles made from chiffon, lace and crepes in classic white and cream. The chain also offers lingerie from M&S Truly You, including bras, basques, suspenders, thongs and French knickers. The bridesmaid's range consists of dresses in neutral colours and long, flowing silhouette. A bandeau emphasises the bust. Accessories include beaded shoes, small clutch bags, jewellery and wraps and cover ups. Meanwhile, grooms can select morning suits in herringbone or black, with matching trousers in black or pinstripe, cravats in pastel hues and brocade waiscoats. Menswear prices range from £49 to £90. The collection also includes dresses for flower girls and page boy outfits, with prices running from £9.50 to £55. In addition to in-store availability, the collection will also be available online.
16 November 2006


Stuart Rose appoints M&S management team

Rumours of Stuart Rose finding and nurturing a successor at Marks and Spencer were flying he with Rose rearranging the retailer's senior management team. Rose has created a four-strong executive committee below M&S's main board, which he appointed last month. Rose is keen to avoid the scrappy succession processes that have affected M&S in the past. At the company's interim results last week Rose said he was "strengthening the bench" in terms of top management, although he said he planned to stay until at least 2009, five years after he joined.

"There will be stability for two or three years and at some point there will be a conversation. One thing is for sure, on transition we will manage it much better than they did the last time," he said. The new committee comprises Anthony Thompson, the retail director, Kate Bostock, the head of women's clothing, Guy Farrant, the food chief, and Andrew Skinner, M&S's newly appointed logistics and supply chain director. "We will involve the ex-co more in broader business decisions. It is going to smooth our flow," explained Steven Sharp, M&S's marketing director, who is a board member.

An M&S spokeswoman said the committee was about "getting the business ready for its next stage" of growth. "Anthony, Kate, Andrew and Guy have all made great contributions to the business and it is in recognition of that," she said.

12 November 2006


M&S climbs back on top

Marks and Spencer yesterday posted a rise in both sales and profits for the first half of 2006. Sales rose 11 percent to £39 billion, while profits before tax gained 32.2 percent to £405.1 million. Shares in the high street retailer soared to an all-time high of slightly over £7 per share at the news. This is £3 more than Sir Philip Green, owner of the Arcadia Group, offered for the chain in 2004.

Sales in the UK , where the company operates 400 stores, rose 10.5 percent to £3.65 billion. Retail floor space increased 7.3 percent, and international sales surged 18 percent $281.5 million. UK gross margin increased 100 basis points to 43.6 percent. Clothing and food sales rose 10 percent during the six months to the end of September.

Chief executive Stuart Rose said that the company had gained market share in all areas in which it traded. “We have delivered better product, better service and better store environment.” In a good mood during a press conference, he joked about many retailers blaming the unseasonably warm weather for poor sales. “I might be out of line here, but weather (as an excuse) is for wimps.” Reflecting on the strong results, Rose said the company had invested in the modernisation of its stores, which are “generating strong returns.” He added that M&S would continue to invest in specialist staff to help customers and improve top line growth. With the company's net debt rising somewhat since April 2006, he said: “Although we continue to see costs rising ahead of inflation in many areas, we are controlling non customer facing costs well.”

The company said it was focusing on a better offering for customers. Investing in high profile ad campaigns has paid off, as the women's wear bestseller was a £35 jersey dress modelled by Elizabeth Jagger. The Per Una range also made strong progress, while the chain increased its lingerie market share to become the lingerie destination in the country. M&S announced plans to expand with new out-of-town store and more outlets in retail parks and also intends to improve, close and relocate existing stores in city and town centres. Trading for the first five weeks of the third quarter was in line with expectations, despite tough comparables. “We believe we are well positioned for the all important Christmas season,” said Rose.
8 November 2006


Shirley Bassey to model M&S

For all you big spenders out there, Dame Shirley Bassey is joining the list of celebrities modelling for Marks & Spencer and is set to star in its Christmas ads. The choice of Bassey, a British icon, will hopefully help the group to maintain its healthy sales figures, which have been rising healthily with the likes of Twiggy, Lizzie Jagger and Erin O'Connor appearing in M&S ads.

The television ads, which are set to debut on Wednesday, is set to Pink's soundtrack of ‘Get The Party Started', showing Dame Shirley singing at an exclusive and glamorous M&S Christmas extravaganza. As FashionUnited recently reported, Marks and Spencer is set to expand with new stores in out of town locations, and the group is aiming to achieve annual profit of £1billion, after pre-tax profits reached £405.1million in this first hall of this year.
8 November 2006


M&S to focus on out-of-town stores

Marks & Spencer is expected to announce it will relocate under-performing town centre stores and refocus on those successful. The company is due to open new out-of-town shops in a five-year development plan. The review follows the appointment of Clem Constantine as the group's new property director from Arcadia. M&S currently has less presence in on out-of-town areas and parts of its portfolio are less profitable than others. The main focus is for Marks & Spencer to have the right store in the right location.

The company's plans could include a chain of out-of-town furniture-only stores. The review is expected to be announced this week when M&S reveals a 30 per cent increase in first-half pre-tax profits to £400m. Like-for-like sales over its second quarter are expected to have grown by at least 4.5 per cent and M&S is forecast to make full-year pre-tax profits of up to £960m.
6 November 2006


Christmas at M&S

Marks & Spencer unveiled its Per Una Christmas collection this week. The range includes red carpet eveningwear and tuxedo-style tailoring, and the fashion stories are dominated by rich shades of ruby rd, emerald green, topaz and gold.

Luxurious fabrics play a big role, with velvet, lace, chiffon and shiny taffeta all prominent. The collection will debut in more than 200 stores on October 19. Meanwhile, M&S has signed Elizabeth] Jagger, daughter of Rolling Stone Sir Mick Jagger, to star in its autumn advertising campaign. Jagger joins the existing line-up including Twiggy and Laura Bailey. To complete the look, the Per Una beauty range focuses on the hottest shades and formulations. Everything you need to look and feel special from head to toe. The ads break in mid-September.

Meanwhile, Bryan Ferry has been unveiled as the autumn face of menswear for the M&S Autograph range. The new campaign, shot by legendary fashion photographer David Bailey, shows Bryan modeling a variety of smart tailoring looks from the new collection, including suiting by Timothy Everest and shirts by Nigel Hall, as well as pieces from mainline Autograph.
24 August 2006


Bryan Ferry new face of M&S

Bryan Ferry is the new face of Marks & Spencer Autograph range for men this autumn. The new advertisements feature Bryan Ferry wearing tailored pieces and formal shirts by Timothy Everest and Nigel Hall, as well as pieces from the Autograph mainline collection. The collections will be in store from September and are available at over 270 M&S outlets. Suit prices start from £129.
16 August 2006


Possible expansion for M&S

With sales up for the fourth consecutive quarter, Marks and Spencer's Stuart Rose is targeting new areas of growth for the UK retailer. He said there was room for international expansion and for growth of the M&S food stores, Simply Food, adding that the retailer was looking at different regions to open wholly-owned stores in. The company already has more than 200 franchised stores. The chief executive also said he was still six months ahead of schedule in the middle of a three-year recovery plan. “There is a big demand for our brand and if an opportunity came up then we would look at it,” he told the FT.

M&S reported underlying sales of 8.2 percent in the 13 weeks ended 1 July, thanks to a rise in volume in clothing sales. Rose said every area of the business was gaining market share, except for children's wear, which he promised would gain ground in the fall. He did, however, warn that progress would slow down as comparisons became more difficult, however he said he was still confident the company could “keep the growth coming”. Meanwhile, like-for-like food sales rose 5.8 percent, while general merchandise gained 10.5 percent. Clothing sales rose 10.7 percent and home increased 23.3 percent. Same-store sales rose 8.3 percent. Rose said that M&S had seen its share in the UK clothing and footwear market increase in the fourth quarter, from 9.3 percent to 10 percent. Richard Ratner, head of equities at Seymour Pierce, said the retailer had also improved sales volumes of its “better” and “best” clothing categories. However, more than half of M&S's clothing sales are still derived from its low-cost apparel and mid-priced line, Per Una.
12 July 2006


M&S shares rise to FTSE 100 top

Hopes that Marks & Spencer's first-quarter trading update will beat market expectations sent shares in the high street retailer to the top of the list of FTSE 100 risers. The shares advanced 12 to 578p as SG Securities repeated its buy rating and 660p fair value target price on the company ahead of its trading update on July 11. It said there is every indication that Marks will exceed market expectations in both general merchandise and food.

The broker said the shares remain materially undervalued. SG expects like-for-like sales to rise 7pc, predicting the recovery is gathering momentum. There was also talk that trading is so good at Marks that its summer sale will be held a week later than usual. Despite a bold performance from Marks, the FTSE 100 fell 10.9 to 5681.2 while the FTSE 250 eased 1.9 to 9197.1.

27 June 2006


M&S plans to open 150 stores

Marks & Spencer has said that hopes to open a new shop every week for the next three weeks, news reports have stated. This is far more than chairman Stuart Rose had initially indicated. Recently Rose revealed that M&S planned to open 25 to 30 new stores. With 150 new shops, it will bring the total number of M&S stores to over 350. Most of these will be franchise stores. This summer stores will be opened in Dubai, Ireland, the Ukraine, the Baltic States and Bulgaria. A few years ago the chain retreated from most of the European markets, a decision Rose now calls regrettable and “a mistake”. Although M&S does not have any current plans to open stores on the Continent, Rose said he doesn’t rule it out.
23 June 2006


Record profit for M&S

Profits for Marks & Spencer soared by 35% last year to £751m. The revival of the country's largest retailer was led by womenswear, particularly the younger Per Una range, although menswear was also a strong performer, according to yesterday’s Evening Standard. Chief executive Stuart Rose said the improvement in the womenswear ranges was the 'golden key to the golden door' of reviving the company. He added: 'If women get great products, values and service they will tell their friends, boyfriends and husbands to get in there as well.' M&S grabbed a far bigger market share thanks to its focus on better fashions and food combined with advertising campaigns led by Twiggy. Customer visits to its shops increased by nearly 350,000 a week during the year to 15m a week as word spread about the store's improvements and more competitive pricing.

This in turn sent sales for the year to 1 April up 4%, from £7.5bn to £7.8bn, while underlying profits jumped from £556.1m to £751.4m. It has seen M&S shares soar 90% from as low as 332p in June last year to a high of 632p this month. The recovery has been led by Mr Rose but he retained his trademark tone of caution today. 'M&S is beginning to regain its confidence but we still have much to do to ensure that we sustain growth in the long term,' he said. Mens and womenswear did better in the second half of the year thanks to improvements to the ranges and prices. M&S is spending £500m on improving the look of its shops, stripping out the old-fashioned racks of clothes and replacing them with modern units, while also doing away with the dowdy old M&S furnishings and bringing in a brighter look.

Sales at those stores which have already been modernised jumped 10% in the last three months of the financial year. Mr Rose bought in Asda's former clothing chief Kate Bostock in October 2004 to transform the ailing womenswear division. He has also overhauled the food halls of many M&S stores, scrapped the experimental 'Lifestore' concept and has even toyed with reducing the Marks & Spencer name to 'Your M&S'. Mr Rose said: 'Our name is Marks and Spencer plc but nobody actually calls us that. Your M&S is a bit more colloquial and a bit more 21st century.'

24 May 2006


M&S to open buying offices n Delhi and Shanghai

Marks & Spencer will this week unveil plans to open new buying offices in Delhi and Shanghai as part of the drive by Stuart Rose, the chief executive, to increase efficiency at the retailer. The offices, which will open within 18 months, will allow M&S to increase the volume of goods that it sources directly from overseas suppliers. Rose will announce the expansion of M&S's supply network on Tuesday, when the company is expected to unveil a 21 per cent leap in pre-tax profits to £751m for the year to the end of March.

The outposts in Delhi and Shanghai will take the number of M&S's non-UK sourcing offices to seven. Rearranging M&S's buying functions has been a key priority for Rose, under whom M&S is two years into a three-year turnaround program. It has similar offices in countries including Bangladesh and Turkey . A Hong Kong office opened last September. The offices allow M&S to source goods at short notice and boost its margins by negotiating its own terms with suppliers, thereby cutting out middlemen.

21 May 2006


M&S to outline efficiency drive

Marks & Spencer will outline an efficiency drive to increase sales of key product lines when it unveils its full-year results next Tuesday. Stuart Rose, the chief executive, will tell investors that the retailer needs to make better use of its store selling space to help it boost sales further.

Analysts believe that the initiative, which is likely to focus on the retailer's mid-sized town centre stores, will see M&S dedicate more floor space to its strongly selling womenswear lines and increase the sales densities of its food ranges."We will outline where we see opportunities for 'flexing' our space," said Rose, who is expected to unveil a 21 per cent leap in pre-tax profits for the year to the end of March. "We see plenty of opportunity for UK development," he added.

M&S is expected to report a full-year pre-tax profit of £751m, an increase from £618m last year.The retailer's share price was hit last week when Baugur, the Icelandic retailer and investor, sold its 2.4 per cent stake in M&S for £248m, netting an estimated profit of £50m. Also last week Brandes Investment Partners, the secretive American investor, cut its stake in the retailer to 11.8 per cent from 12.7 per cent.

The sell-off prompted fears that M&S's steep share price rise has come to an end and that Brandes, which has held a disclosable stake for six years, was unwinding its position. Since last September shares in M&S have risen from 350p to 632p. At Friday's close they were trading at 606p.However, analysts said an element of profit taking at M&S was inevitable after such a good run.

14 May 2006


Marks and Spencer may change name

High street chain Marks & Spencer may soon change its name across the board. The company has given its Edgware Road store in London the name “Your M&S” for a trial period. The new logo is intended to test customer response for several months. If the response is positive, the company will consider replacing its 100 year old name and 440 stores will have a new logo.

First used when Stuart Rose took over the company two years ago, the logo is now used on bags, window displays, in-store signs and advertising campaigns. Marks & Spencer has emphasized that this is still very much a trial phase and that there are no current plans to change the logos above all its shops. Enjoying a period of recovery after a number of tough trading year, M&S expects pre-tax profits this year of around £750 million.
3 May 2006

M&S opens in Geneva

Marks & Spencer is opening its first store in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27 April. The new store will focus on women's wear, men's wear and lingerie. Sue Sadler, a corporate member of Marks & Spencer, told fibre2fashion that prices at the Geneva store will be higher than in the UK.

The new store will be operated by the Greek Marinopoulos Brothers SA, a franchiser of Marks & Spencer. Marinopoulos is a partner of supermarket and hypermarket giants Carrefour and Dia, LVMH's cosmetics subsidiary Sephora, Starbucks coffee business, al well as music and electronics retailer Fnac.
26 April 2006


M&S enjoys robust sales

Marks & Spencer has reported an increase in like-for-like sales of 6.8 percent for the fourth quarter, surpassing market expectations. However, chief executive Stuart Rose has warned that the trading climate will remain “difficult”. He added that he was happy with the results but said that “there remains much to do”. Rose is reluctant to champion a turnaround until the company achieves comparative growth against growth. “The trading environment remains difficult and we do not expect this to improve in the next financial year. Progress will become more demanding as we start to come up against growth year-on-year,” he said.

UK like-for-like sales for the quarter rose 6.8 percent. Meanwhile, clothing and home ware sales increased 8.2 percent, while food sales rose 5.6 percent, all on a like-for-like basis. Overall UK sales increased by 9.1 percent, while overall clothing and home sales were up 9.9 percent and food was up 8.4 percent. Full price sales of clothing and home ware rose 11.6 percent. The company said it expects pre-tax profits of to be between £745 million and £755 million, taking into account an “accelerated depreciation” charge of £26 million for a store refurbishment plan. It also takes into account the one-off staff bonus of £20 million.

The gross margin is expected to improve between 50 and 100 basis points. “This will be driven mainly by improvements in general merchandise primary margin from better buying and improved supplier terms,” said the company. Operating costs are predicted to increase by 6 percent to 7 percent. M&S rival Next last month reported its worst trading results in at least three years. The company's chief executive referred to M&S's recovering status as well as Primark's success and weaker consumer confidence as the cause.
11 April 2006

M&S to reveal rise in sales first quarter

Stuart Rose will on Tuesday reveal that like for like sales at the retailer rose by 3.2 per cent over the three months to April, the third consecutive quarter of sales growth at M&S. M&S shares have risen by 63 per cent over the past year as Rose's recovery strategy has started to bite. Rose has been putting off using the “R-word” as he calls M&S's recovery and is unlikely to relent this week.

Rose's reluctance to call a permanent turn in M&S's fortunes stems from bitter lessons in history. In November 2003 Luc Vandevelde, M&S's then chairman, aid the company was “well beyond the recovery stage” but within months sales had collapsed and M&S was embroiled in a takeover battle after Philip Green made multiple bid approaches. However, the city is getting excited. A recent note on M&S by Deutsche Bank was entitled “Not just an ordinary recovery” mimicking M&S's hugely successful recent ad campaign.

9 April 2006

M&S grand thank-you for staff

Marks & Spencer is set to allocate more than £60 million among its 63,000-strong staff as a “golden thank you”. Chief executive Stuart Rose wants to reward the staff, who has contributed to the company's turnaround in the past two years. Commenting on the news, a source close to Rose told, “People are right about this bonus, and the figures being quoted are in the right ballpark, too.”

Stuart Rose joined the company in May 2004 to save the retailer from a takeover bid by retail baron Philip Green. Since he assumed the role of chief executive, sales and profits have risen. In the past year, shares have soared almost two-thirds to 556.5 pence, surpassing Green's offer of 400 pence per share.
3 April 2006


M&S signs Pundits for Menswear Campaign

Football pundits Alan Hansen, Jamie Redknapp and Ian Wright are the new faces of Marks & Spencer's latest Autograph menswear advertising campaign. “This sporting trio adds their own unique signature to the new spring/summer collection, which has been shot by photographer David Bailey. With the focus on football this summer, who better to represent Autograph for the forthcoming season. The campaign focuses on the key casualwear pieces which should be an essential part of every man's kit.”

Marks & Spencer's latest signings follows the success of their last advertising campaign which featured the three comedians Jimmy Carr, Martin Freeman and Bob Mortimer.
16 March 2006

M&S recovers

High street retailer Marks and Spencer appears to be recovering from years of steady losses. The company's market share in the UK's £40 billion-a-year clothing and footwear market rose to 12.2 percent in the 12 weeks ended 26 February. During the same period last year, the retailer had a market share of 11.7 percent, according to the FT. Under leadership of chief executive Stuart Rose, the women's wear market grew from 11.2 percent to 12.4 percent, boosted by the ad campaign featuring the likes of iconic model Twiggy.

According to the FT, shareholders regard the turnaround in the retailer's fortunes a testament to Rose's skills and leadership abilities. He first joined the firm in May 2004 and rescued the retailer from a bid by Arcadia owner Philip Green. The company spent about £350 million on store improvements this year and will spend a further £500 million next year. The market share improvement follow a gentle rise in sales. Fourth quarter sales, which will be released next month, are likely to show growth for the third consecutive quarter.
13 March 2006

M&S Supplier to foot ad campaign

Advertising doesn't come cheap, as Marks & Spencer has recently discovered. Using high profile models such as Erin O'Connor and Twiggy has greatly increased sales, however the high costs of running the campaign is now to be paid by M&S' suppliers. The high street mega-store has felt more than a pinch in the waist from its dowdy fashion offer and has done everything it can to bring a fresh injection of fashion to its shopfloors. The retailer is now demanding that its suppliers pay for campaign costs, which will continue to be high in profile and in price.

Suppliers have been informed an addition 0.5 per cent discount from April will be required to help pay for advertising costs and a supplier meeting has been called for March 16h to discuss the changes in greater details. M&S has been investing heavily in promoting its fashion and food sectors, through various media ranging from television to print advertising.

According to Neilsen Media Research, which tracks companies' media spend, M&S invested £23.9m in advertising between September and December, a rise of 23 per cent on the same period in 2004. Its total advertising bill for 2005 topped £45m and ad spend for January 2006 alone cost £2.5m. Of course if the campaigns are successful and bring customers to its stores, suppliers will benefit from more substantial orders.

A spokesperson for M&S stated: “We are continuing to invest heavily in marketing and in our store overhaul programme. As a result, volumes are increasing and we are getting quicker turnaround on product, which is benefiting suppliers with better cash flow and higher revenues through their business with M&S. The discount applies to all suppliers from clothing and home to food.”

6 March 2006



M&S and Next sign up for Lincolnshire development

Marks & Spencer and Next have signed up for 10,000 square feet of property in the Marshalls Yard development in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. The retail property, which is valued at £34 million, started construction in January and is set to open in Easter 2007.

The Marshalls Yard development, the proposed new marina and the higher quality of house building are expected to raise the retail traffic in and the value of Gainsborough, writes the Retail Bulletin. Currently, the towns centre is losing retail business to neighbouring towns because of its non-existent offering. However, retail analysts CACI expect Marshall Yards to create footfall.

Other retailers to have signed up for the development include JJB Health and Fitness, Allied Carpets, New Look, Specsavers, Brantano, Carphone Warehouse, Wilkinsons and Greggs.

“Securing Marks & Spencer Simply Food and Next confirms the confidence retailers have in Gainsborough and a wider catchment we can confidently predict will now include Retford,” Andrew Malley, Retail Property Director for developer Dransfield Properties told the Retail Bulletin. “We only have a small number of units left, and expect tenant demand to be high.”

21 February 2006


Ethical clothes back in fashion

Now that Marks & Spencer is offering fair trade product to its customers, ethical clothing options will be available to the masses. Brands such as People Tree have been around for years, however have not had the same impact on a wider market, and frankly, haven't been all that fashionably interesting. Today, however, designers such as Stella McCartney, Katharine Hamnett and Bono have not only been campaigning for ethically sourced clothing and pesticide-free fabrics, they have also incorporated the fashion back into what was once an alternative eco-look.

Ethical clothing can now be as cool, sophisticated and fashion-forward as ‘regular' clothes and consumers have a choice in what they wear and where their wardrobe comes from. Marks & Spencer may only start by offering organic t-shirts and socks, but knowing the Top Shop has just appointed its first buyer to source ethically-made clothes means that high street fashion may seen revolutionise the organic clothing industry.

29 January 2006


M&S enjoys fruits of Christmas

Marks and Spencer has good news for its employees. They are about to enjoy a £40 million stock option prize following upbeat trading predictions over the Christmas period, which caused shares to reach above £5 for the first time in seven years, reports the Financial Times.
The strong results, which will be released tomorrow, are thanks largely to less discounting during the holiday period.

With the rise in share price, employees are set to benefit through company sharesave schemes which will mature this month. The company announced that over 11,500 employees could expect an amount of £3,500 each. The higher the monthly amount saved, the more they will benefit.
Chief executive Stuart Rose expressed his pleasure at seeing employees, who had remained faithful to the struggling company, were now seeing their loyalty rewarded.
9 January 2006


M&S win court case

Marks & Spencer has won its European Union court case for the right to deduct overseas losses from its British tax bill. The European Court of Justice said that M&S may claim back losses it made in France because it has ceased operations there.

Bill Dodwell, a tax partner at consultants Deloitte said "The court has ruled that the UK tax regime isn't quite right, but overall, EU governments will be quite pleased with this result," he added "UK law went too far because it didn't allow M&S to claim tax relief in the UK, even when it couldn't claim it overseas because it had closed its foreign subsidiary,"

14 December 2005



M&S uses celebs to launch store card

Marks & Spencer has signed up dozens of celebrities to an exclusive black store card which comes complete with a 20 per cent discount.

The company said “ it's a card that we give out to a very limited number of people who have been supportive in the past, who have said nice things about the company” M&S introduced the card earlier this year, following in the footsteps of various other retailers who use similar schemes to encourage high profile shoppers to stay loyal.

20 November 2005


M&S recovery is progressing

Marks & Spenser said that its recovery was progressing well, as it announced solid operating profits and the return of its prodigal son and founder of the Per Una women's wear label, George Davies.

Pre-tax profits rose 20 percent to £308.2 million, thanks to a round of cost-cutting valued at £230 million this year, rather than a rise in sales. Nevertheless, chief executive Stuart Rose said he was pleased with the results. “It was a good first half in a difficult market,” said Rose. “I think we have a clear plan, we have got better product and we are working on a better environment and better services, and I think we will get our share of Christmas trade.”

He expressed his delight with Davies' return to the company, a mere four weeks after having announced his resignation. Rose compared their disagreement with a lover's quarrel. “George is a volatile, charismatic, creative guy. We both agree we like each other. Have you never had a row with a girlfriend or boyfriend?”

Meanwhile, international sales increased by 8.6 percent to £348 million. The international business consists of Kings Super Markets in the US and shops in Ireland and Hong Kong. Last week, M&S opened the first of four stores in Moscow and will look to continue expansion in the medium term.
10 November 2005


M&S reveals new ad campaign

Marks and Spencer has replaced celebrities with can-can girls in its latest Christmas television advertisement, which will be unveiled on Tuesday. The ad is set in a Folies Bergere-style burlesque club and features a troupe of dancing girls, men and children preparing for a performance. It is the first time in five years that M&S has not used famous faces in its Christmas marketing push.

The racy advertisement reflects increased confidence in M&S's performance on the part of Stuart Rose, its chief executive, who is expected to unveil a 19 per cenr leap in first-half pre-tax profits on Tuesday. On Friday M&S's shares closed at 433p, their highest level for six years.
7 November 2005



M&S focus on landlord and tenant relations

Marks & Spencer Executive Stuart Rose announced two major new investments in Northern Ireland and called for developers and retailers to work together at retail pr operty organisation BCSC's Annual Conference & Retail Showcase. Rose said that M&S would spend £20 million on the redevelopment of Marks & Spencer's S pr ucefield store in Lisburn and the opening of a new 40,0000 sq ft store in the Abbey Centre, Newtownabbey .

“Marks & Spencer first came to Northern Ireland in 1967 and led the way for UK investment into this market. We've enjoyed 38 years of trading in the pr ovince and look forward to opening our eleventh store here next year. “You have to listen to your tenants. As developers, you have to deliver exciting environments. And as retailers we have to do our part and deliver the dream. I see a bright future for your business and our business.”

BCSC President Bob De Barr said “Marks & Spencer is a landmark retailer and the call by Stuart Rose for closer cooperation between landlords and tenants is one we fully support. We are also pleased that Marks & Spencer has taken the opportunity to announce their major investments in Northern Ireland at the BCSC Conference. We believe that many delegates here will have their eyes open to new development and partnership opportunities that Belfast and Northern Ireland present.”
3 November 2005


M&S invests in Irish expansion

British retail chain Marks and Spencer is investing €33 million (£22.4 million) in an Irish expansion plan.

Although M&S has been operating in the Irish market for 40 years now, it has decided to open two new stores in Newbridge, County Kildare and in Newtonabbey, North East Belfast. It is also updating its existing store in Sprucefield, near Lisburn, which is one of its 23 locations in Ireland.
Since 2003, M&S has opened 10 new stores on the Irish market, thereby creating 1,500 jobs locally.
2 November 2005


M&S predict healthier sales

Marks & Spencer, Britain's biggest clothing retailer, will paint an upbeat gloss on its trading this week, though underlying sales will still be lower than last year. The store will post its second quarter trading statement on Tuesday, and insiders are confident it will virtually eliminate the sales decline which has hit the business so far this year.

The last quarter saw sales down 11 per cent on the first quarter; sales growth could be virtually flat on Tuesday. But retailers and investors say that the cost-cutting and product interventions of M&S chief executive Stuart Rose have yielded 'easy wins', and that maintaining momentum will not be easy. Shares in M&S have risen more than 10 per cent in the last three weeks, buoyed by comments from City analysts now confident that the management is driving the business in the right direction.

M&S managers last month invested heavily in the company, and have also spent heavily on a television and newspaper advertising campaign which has met wide approval. But whether the campaign, estimated to cost over £700,000 a week by some, can be sustained is debatable. The City will reserve judgement on Rose's leadership until after next Christmas's trading update. Some analysts believe that M&S has a vast stock of cheap clothes to compete with supermarkets and Primark and that this will take a long time to clear.

23 October 2005

Davies quits M&S amidst euphoria

Stuart Rose, the chief executive of the beleaguered retailer Marks and Spencer, only had a few hours to enjoy the best sales results the company had had in two years. On Tuesday George Davies, the founder of Per Una, resigned from his post as consultant to the women's wear label.

His decision to leave the company came hours after Rose told the City that he had good hopes that Davies would stay. “I am not putting odds on it. If we can hammer out a deal, we will get white smoke, if we can't, we will have to go somewhere else,” he said.
Shortly after receiving Davies' letter of resignation, Rose said: “It is inconvenient but not a disaster. Per Una is a successful brand and will continue to be a successful brand.”Rose announced that total sales had risen 3.3 percent, with general merchandise up 0.4 percent. Underlying sales in the food business rose 2.7 percent, as opposed to a rise of 0.7 percent last quarter.

Unfortunately his good news was overshadowed by Davies' departure. Rose said that Davies' Per Una label accounts “for only £350 million of sales in a £7.5 billion business” per year, but the fact of the matter is that Per Una accounts for 20 percent of women's wear sales and has been the best performer in M&S's offering in the past few years.“I thing George Davies is the retail star of the last 20 years,” managing director of Verdict Consulting, Richard Hyman, told the FT. “During the period where the definition of middle-age has become a much higher number, Per Una really served that customer of M&S and it really led an independent existence under George and his team.”

As part of the plans to turn M&S around –these positive results do not rule out the fact that the company is still losing market share – 20 stores will be redesigned this year at a cost of about £70 million. The matter of Per Una
remains, as yet, unresolved.
12 October 2005

VandeVelde fined over closures

Former chairman of Marks and Spencer, Luc Vandevelde, has been fined £2,578 in a French court over his failure to comply with local laws on staff consultation when M&S announced the closure of its French stores in 2001. Five other former M&S managers were exempt from the charge. When M&S retreated from Continental Europe four years ago, workers and politicians reacted angrily, while customers were disappointed.

“We are pleased that the French court has discharged five of the six employees. Luc Vandevelde is now considering whether or not to appeal. If he decides to appeal we will continue to support him in the legal action because we have always believed that we complied with all the relevant European legislation.”
12 October 2005


Investors more positive about M&S

Sales at Marks and Spencer seem to be on the rise as the company is hoping to announce a favourable trading statement this week.

It is expected to show that fashion sales in the three months to July fell only two per cent below the same period last year compared with ten per cent in the opening quarter. But chief executive Stuart Rose will be presenting the figures as highly regarded analyst Verdict Retail prepares to publish a report showing that M&S's share of the department store market has fallen from 31 per cent to 30 per cent.

Debenhams, the number two player, has increased its share from 16 per cent to 19 per cent. John Lewis and House of Fraser have also gained. The city has become more optimistic about M&S after an apparently good response to it autumn fashion ranges and a well-received TV advertising campaign. Directors, including Rose, have spent £1,000,000 buying shares.

11 October 2005


M&S dances its way to optimism

Marks & Spencer, the struggling British high street retailer, is offering its employees dance lesson in an effort to boost morale. The ‘inspirational dance lessons' are only part of a range of exercises offered by business guru and motivator Mary Goberare. With these dance lessons, management hopes to achieve an improved level of customer service from its 55,000 employees.

Chief Executive Stuart Rose had requested that employees take the day-long dance sessions at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Usdaw, the shopworkers' union, has however said that the sessions, which are rumoured to cost the company around £10 million, are a waste of money.
6 October 2005

M&S launch lingerie with Per Una founder

Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose and Per Una founder George Davies presented a united front at the launch of the fashion label's lingerie brand last week. But tense contract negotiations between the two are rumbling on behind the scenes. Davies, who sold Per Una to M&S last year, is said to be angling for a package with a similar value to stay with the High Street giant.

2 October 2005

M&S choose celebrities for fall advertising

Marks & Spencer will follow in the footsteps of other high street brands, by using celebrities to sell its products. Stuart Rose has staked M&S's recovery on Twiggy and Erin O'Connor who will star in the company's first TV advertising campaign since 2000.

M&s's current Autumn / Winter range is the first one for which Rose and Kate Bostock, M&S's director of womenswear , are wholly responsible.” If M&S's decline continues during the Autumn , the shareholders will start to lose patience with Rose.” said an analyst.
11 September 2005


Entrepreneur increases stake in M&S

Kevin Stanford, the retail entrepreneur, has increased his stake in Marks & Spencer - buying a further 5.9m shares in the beleagured retailer.

The move - which increases the value of his stake to £50m - may well reignite takeover speculation, despite scepticism in many city circles. Stanford insisted that the stake-building was purely an investment. " With the backing of the freehold property portfolio I can't go wrong" he said this weekend.
2 August 2005


Pressure on M&S to produce commercial collections

Analysts and fund managers are losing patience with Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose warning that he will have to turn around the group's performance with his Autumn clothing lines.

Justin Urquhart Stewart of Seven Investment Management said "With lower demand on the high street you have got to be a real street fighter to win. Sadly Mr Rose might be too polite for this fight. It (M&S) has an old brand with a weakening pull - good brands you wear on the outside of your shirts, not in the inside of your knickers". "The real test is going to be the Autumn lines. If they can't sort that out there will be pressure."
19 July 2005


Wilson quits M&S

Beleaguered high street retailer Marks & Spencer yesterday announced that its second-highest ranking executive, Charlie Wilson, was quitting the firm after a mere 14 months. Wilson was responsible for information technology, logistics and property issues and was chief executive Stuart Rose's right hand man. He is leaving the company on 28 October to become chief executive of the Booker Cash & Carry, which is owned by Iceland's Baugur.

Analysts say that his departure should not impact the company too greatly, despite his position as member of a small board. Most agree that he will have completed the job he was supposed to do when he joined. "Charles joined M&S to do a specific job, namely to help focus the business and to deliver cash and cost improvements," said Rose in a statement. "He has delivered these and helped build a solid foundation for the company to go forward."
19 July 2005


M&S Sales Down But Steady

Sales at Marks & Spencer fall for the seventh quarter in a row. But company sees an improving trend in full price sales over the past three quarters. UK Retail Sales for the 14 weeks to 9 July 2005 were down 3.1 per cent in total with General Merchandise down 10.3 per cent and Food up 5.0 per cent.

Clothing was down 9.2 per cent and Home down 22.3 per cent. Like for like sales were down 5.4% in total General Merchandise down 11.2% and Food up 0.7%.Within General Merchandise, full price sales were down 2.4% but M&S has seen an improving trend in full price sales over the past three quarters . The company said that customer reaction to the new opening price points has been good and volume growth substantial.

Stuart Rose, Chief Executive said: 'The trading environment continues to be very tough. We are pleased with the progress in Food with its return to like for like sales growth. In General Merchandise, the figures reflect the significant change in our trading stance compared to this time last year when our priority was to clear overstocks. This was achieved through deeper markdowns and extended sale periods. This boosted sales figures but impacted profitability.

'Our focus remains full price profitable sales, improving our financial performance through margin, cost and markdown management. We have made good progress. This has enabled us to delay the Summer Sale by 18 days. We go on Sale tomorrow with 40% less stock than last year. 'While the trading environment remains very challenging, better buying, stock and cost control should enable us to make further progress.'
15 July 2005


M&S continues losing streak

The struggling high street retailer Marks & Spencer has completed its seventh straight quarter of revenue decline with total like-for-like sales down 5.4 per cent in quarter ended 9 July. Chief executive Stuart Rose admitted to a difficult trading environment. "The trading environment continues to be very tough. While the trading environment remains very challenging, better buying, stock and cost control should enable us to make further progress."

Despite the drop in sales, the company maintained that its annual margin and cost targets remained the same. Although full price sales dropped 2.4 per cent, volumes rose. M&S defended its pricing, saying it was very competitive. Rose said that the summer sales had been delayed by 18 days in response to the improving trends. Furthermore, he said that stock levels were down 40 per cent compared with last year, indicating improved margins.
13 July 2005


M&S on track for revival plan

Marks and Spencer boss Stuart Rose is expected to reveal the latest downturn in its clothes sales figures at the group's AGM next week, but this time with indications that his revival plan is beginning to work.

Marks and Spencer has not launched a mid-season sale which may indicate that it does not have surplus stock which needs to be heavily discounted in a sale. Rose will reveal the group's first quarter performance at their AGM on Wednesday but analysts believe that his focus on margins rather than sales will mean that the company makes predicted profits of £680m this year.
10 July 2005


M&S contemplating breast cancer lingerie

Struggling UK high-street retialer Marks and Spencer is contemplating a lingerie line designed for women who have undergone breast cancer surgery. The company is making an effort to position itself as a responsible business.

"I don't think we're getting enough bangs for our buck in terms of reward or recognition from the customers about what we do," chief executive Stuart Rose said of M&S's insufficient publicity surrounding the issues it cares about, such as labour standards.

Rose said that the company - which has 25 per cent of the UK lingerie market - was now investigating matching underwear for women who have had breast surgery. The retailer already offers a range of mastectomy swimwear and supports the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which reported that approximately 41,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer each year. The majority has undergone surgery.
6 July 2005


Karen Millen founder buys M&S stake

Karen Millen co-founder Kevin Stanford has acquried a stake of around 0.5 per cent in Marks & Spencer. Stanford has invested around £29m in acquiring the M&S shares, which were bought through Icelandic bank Kaupthing. It adds to a portfolio which also includes stakes in Moss Bros and Mulberry. Stanford also holds an 8.26 per cent in Icelandic retail group Baugur, which now owns Karen Millen, and has recently been linked to a possible bid for M&S.

Stanford told The Times:"I think it's a good share backed up by a strong asset base. It's just part of my portfolio."
3 July 2005


M&S to fund Fashion Retail Academy

Billionaire entrepeneur Philip Green has succeeded in getting something out of arch rival Stuart Rose, the boss of Marks & Spencer, a year after his failed attempt to buy the retail giant. M&S is understood to have made a commitment to help fund Green's Fashion Retail Academy, the venture that will offically launch in September to train the next generation of retail talent.
27 June 2005


M&S focus on out-of-town stores

Stuart Rose will shift Marks & Spencer's focus away from the high street to out-of-town retail parks this week as he presides over a further slide in sales. M&S's chief executive will announce the strategy shift at Tuesday's full-year results. The retailer refused to divulge details ahead of the numbers, but an insider said: "Certainly, during the course of the next year, there will be new stores opening."

Some high-street shops selling fashion and food will be closed or sold as a result, although Rose believes there is still room to grow the 400-strong estate, despite the current slump in town centres.
22 May 2005


M&S appoints new chairman

High street retailer Marks & Spencer has appointed Lord Burns as new Chairman of the company. He will join M&S as Deputy Chairman, effective from 1 October of this year and will assume his postion as Chairman from July 2006. The current chairman, Paul Myners will step aside in July 2006.

Myners said in a statement: "I am delighted that Terry Burns will be joining the Board and that he will succeed me as Chairman of the Company. I look forward to working with him." Terry Burns said: "Marks & Spencer is a Company with a great brand and a strong heritage. I am very pleased to be joining the Board at this important time."

Lord Burns is Chairman of Abbey National and Glas Cymru (Welsh Water), and is a non-executive director of Banco Santander Central Hispano, Pearson Group and British Land.
18 May 2005


M&S to unveil future refurb plans

Stuart Rose is expected to unveil plans to refurbish run-down M&S stores across the country. It is an ambitious programme that analysts believe could cost the company up to £1bn over the next three to four years.

Rose, alongside Steve Sharp, the marketing guru he brought to M&S, believes that after a series of experiments across the country he has got the retailer's new format right with the latest trial at Shoreham, West Sussex. On the way out is M&S's pasty corporate green, while products are now grouped in collections, with matching outfits displayed and hung all in one place.
15 May 2005


New chairman at M&S?

High street chain Marks & Spencer may chose a new chairman to replace Paul Myners. The desicision will be revealed at the company board meeting on Wednesday. According to three external competitors are vying for the role with Myners, including Lord Terry Burns, a previous chairman of mortgage bank Abbey. Their names were put forward by non-executive director Kevin Lomax.

Last month, it was reported that Lomax wanted Myners removed from his role as chairman because he felt that Myners had too many roles elsewhere to be able to devote his attention to matters at M&S. Meanwhile Myners has maintained that he will not resign and has underscored that there has been no shareholder pressure to find a new chairman.
10 May 2005


M&S not price competitive

Clothing at Marks & Spencer is 19 per cent more expensive than at its rivals, and prices relative to the rest of the high street are rising, not falling.

The research, which was commissioned by Deutsche Bank, will be a worry for chief executive Stuart Rose. In November he pledged to match the prices of high-street rivals. The promise was a key part of his turnaround strategy for the beleaguered group. Deutsche Bank also believes that M&S food prices are 25 per cent higher than those of rivals.
7 May 2005


Rumoured tension at M&S

Tensions are high in the boardroom of Marks & Spencer, reports
According to the report chairman Paul Myners' position with the high street retailer is no longer safe. It alleges that senior non-executive director Kevin Lomax has been making efforts to oust Myners, who took on the role of interim chairman in May 2004, because he believes that Myners' other business commitments do not allow him the time to focus on the turnaround of the flailing company.

A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment on the report but told FashionUnited that Marks & Spencer is currently assessing the situation and is evaluating internal and external candidates. Any decisions reached would be revealed at the Annual General Meeting in July.

Further to his role as chairman of M&S, Myners is chairman of the Guardian Media Group and Aspen Insurance Holdings, non-executive director of the Bank of New York, chairman of the Tate Gallery and a trustee of Glyndebourne, and a member of the Bank of England's court of directors.
26 April 2005


Marks & Spencer Online With Amazon

Struggling retailer Marks & Spencer is to work with Amazon to drive its internet offer. Amazon Services Europe is to host the M&S website, as well as provide the technology behind the M&S e-commerce offer as well as in-store and telephone ordering. and customer services systems. Under the deal, M&S will remain responsible for the management of the website, customer service operations, warehousing and distribution.

With the first phase of work due to be completed in early summer 2006, M&S said its customers "will benefit from the development of an integrated ordering service, whether they choose to buy products in-store, online or by telephone".
Steven Sharp, director, marketing & e-commerce, M&S, said: "Marks & Spencer already has a successful website with over 24m visits every year, but our e-commerce and customer ordering capabilities have yet to reach their full potential. A partnership with Amazon will help us achieve this, while allowing us to concentrate on our core business of retailing."

Mark Stabingas, senior vice president, worldwide business development and services cales, Amazon Services, said: "We look forward to sharing our e-Commerce expertise with Marks & Spencer to enable them to focus on branding and merchandising. Our goal is to provide their customers with a true multi-channel experience, regardless of how they choose to shop for or order merchandise."
20 April 2005


M&S to cut prices

Stuart Rose, the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, the retailer, has pledged to continue to cut clothing prices at the chain as he seeks to 'give customers a treat'. Clothing prices have already fallen by 5 per cent in M&S's stores over the past year. As a result, Rose claims that starting prices for its ranges are now comparable with high street rivals such as Next and Bhs. He said: "I am not worried about my price competitiveness. But I am reserving the right to do some knock-out deals," he said.
18 April 2005


M&S workers revolt

Workers at western Scotland stores of the British high-street retailer Marks & Spencer have revolted against a sudden loss of benefits.The workers are signing up with shop workers' union Usdaw in response to the flailing company's attempts to remove employee perks in a effort to boost its competitiveness.

Workers at the chain claim their conditions and pay packages are being cut down extremely and they feel they must protect themselves, especially in light of the fact that M&S is expected to announce further changes. Where M&S was once a company known for its worker-focused regulations and competitive wages, it is now being forced to cut costs to combat a dramatic drop in sales in recent years.
9 March 2005


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