Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

M&S chief plans to make his mark with store revamp

Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland has continued to stamp his mark on the business as he unveiled plans to redesign stores after customers complained outlets were "difficult to shop" in.

Chief executive Mr Bolland, who joined the firm a year ago, said the new formats will sell products selected in line with local criteria such as "affluence and age".

Several pilot shops will be introduced in October, with a new layout complete with different signage, packaging and labelling in an attempt to improve navigation for customers.

The former Morrisons boss also announced plans to step up expansion in so-called emerging markets such as India and China, prompting analysts to question how much steam was left in the UK market.

M&S runs 703 stores in the UK and 361 overseas. It has just posted a 13% increase in underlying pre-tax profits to £714m in the year to April 2.

Helped by an advertising campaign featuring former X-Factor judge Dannii Minogue and retired footballer Jamie Redknapp, the retailer has had a resilient performance over a year of uncertainty on the high street.

M&S, which serves around 21 million customers every week, said industry figures showed it had increased its share of the clothing market over the period by 0.5% to 11.7% and its share of the food market by 0.1% to 3.9%.

The results are the first under Mr Bolland, who unveiled a "strategic review" for the business in November.

Increasing the rate of overseas expansion, saving money in its supply chain and revamping various labels are among the new initiatives.

As well as changing the layouts of UK shops, Mr Bolland said the company is opening another 10 stores across India and six in Shanghai alone.

Mr Bolland said M&S is able to increase its market share by offering more choice and by appealing to a "desire to trade up", adding: "We traded well in a challenging environment, growing our market share in both clothing and food. We did this by offering customers great quality and value, and more choice through innovation."

M&S said it had a good start to its new financial year but said reduced spending power and more expensive raw materials will present challenges in the months ahead.

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