James Moore: Bolland has good reason to frown as M&S messes up

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Marc Bolland has got into the swing of things as M&S boss. Typing his name into a Google Images search produces numerous snaps of him looking very dapper in an M&S suit and with models draped on his arm. Only one thing missing from recent photos of him with Twiggy and Lisa Snowdon, though: the sort of oily "wow, look at me" smile Sir Stuart Rose always seemed to produce whatever the weather. Perhaps now we know why.

Yesterday's trading statement gave Mr Bolland every reason to frown. M&S missed forecasts because it messed up badly, not in some sideline (like electricals, which has been dumped) but in womenswear. The thing M&S is judged on. The thing it is there for.

The knitwear customers were desperate for in chilly February was not available because M&S hadn't bought enough in. This meant the chain sold 100,000 woolly wonders, when it could have sold 300,000. One might think that someone, somewhere in the company might have at least taken a cursory glance at long-term weather forecasts, or, failing that, have noticed a trend developing. Apparently not. Or if they did, the management weren't listening.

Perhaps bosses were simply too focused on the cost cuts Mr Bolland was highlighting yesterday. It is down to them that M&S will meet profit forecasts despite the fact that its womenswear sales have been falling for the last six months.

A miss, said Mr Bolland. A temporary buying issue. Honestly. With statements like that you could almost see him as one of those hapless goons on The Apprentice. Except that he's not one of those goons – he is the head of one of Britain's biggest retailers.

One mistake is not a reason to throw someone out with the surplus stock that M&S doesn't actually have much of. And, who knows, a shake-up in the buying department and a willingness to listen to people with the right instincts could make things look very different very quickly.

Goldman masters are still winners

Don't be fooled by the headline numbers – Goldman Sachs' net earnings might have fallen by 23 per cent, but that was a whole lot better than Wall Street expected.

Despite a torrent of negative publicity, it is still the world's top deal adviser and, while the dividend was up, its masters of the universe are the real winners because they pocketed 44 per cent of its revenues.

Facebook might have shunned it, but the "deep and broad client franchise" that chief executive Lloyd Blankfein gushed about are still very much on board. Whether he'll still be smiling when the regulators are done is another matter.

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