Belfast Telegraph

M&S says turnaround of ailing clothing business is ‘behind schedule’

Marks & Spencer told analysts it has been disappointed by progress in clothing and homeware as part of its major transformation programme.

A branch of Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street, central London, as the retail giant told investors and analysts that more work needed to be done in the turnaround of its ailing clothing division (PA)
A branch of Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street, central London, as the retail giant told investors and analysts that more work needed to be done in the turnaround of its ailing clothing division (PA)

By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

Marks & Spencer has told analysts that “progress is behind schedule” for the turnaround of its ailing clothing and home business.

Bosses at the High Street giant expressed disappointment that significantly more action needs to take place in its long-suffering clothing and home division to get it back on track, at the company’s capital markets day on Tuesday.

However, shares in the company lifted as analysts were largely positive about the frank assessment of the company, which also highlighted a number of “green shoots” in the digital and food arms.

The company updated investors and brokers on Tuesday over the progress of its transformation programme, which has taken place since the start of the year under the leadership of Steve Rowe.

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Marks and Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe (PA)

Mr Rowe told attendees that the company remains focused on “restoring the basics” and will not rush the retailer’s transformation programme.

Analysts told PA that bosses said they expect it to take until around 2022 or 2023 before the full cultural shift at the firm takes shape.

Victoria McKenzie Gould, communications director at M&S, said the company’s special culture had been lost but said it was working hard to restore its store voice.

Mr Rowe said significant work still needs to take place in the retailer’s clothing and home division, stating that hard work in improving products had not been backed up by infrastructure improvements.

He said that the company has suffered particular problems with “planning and stock visibility”, resulting in some empty shelves.

The company also said it is overhauling its menswear collections, reducing the proportion of suits in its menswear stock, to reflect contemporary customers.

Elsewhere, senior management said M&S will boost its food business through the transformation plan by working to lower costs and modernise its supply chain.

Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital, said: “Everyone knows that M&S is engaged in a major transformation, but it was encouraging to see where management feels more change needs to take place.

“There was a sense of optimism among management, but also a recognition that there is a lot more to do. While they highlighted issues in clothing, there were clearly green shoots in digital and in food.”

Shares in the company jumped 2% to 188.2p on Tuesday

PA

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