Simon English: M&S glory days in the past? Bolland has little time to prove otherwise
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Outlook How long has Marc Bolland got? About a year, seems the consensus, so that he can at least give undeniable evidence that his Marks & Spencer turnaround is actually turning.
Perhaps he has even less than that. And perhaps it is time for all of us to stop describing Marks as a bellwether. These days, its results are only telling us how it itself is doing. Others have escaped the supposed crisis on the high street.
Mr Bolland is, of course, absurdly overpaid but that's not really his fault. If his experiment does fail, you can be sure that the M&S board will conclude that the next move is to recruit an even more expensive outsider, rather than someone cheaper and internal.
Can Mr Bolland do it? He is trying to bring the supply chain up to date, and there has never been any doubt about his knowledge of the food market (women's clothes, not so much).
Some sympathy goes his way for the growing feeling that his predecessor may not have done him too many favours.
Sir Stuart Rose was a brilliant retailer, most agree, but it also begins to look as if he left to the next man the full-on overhaul of the business that was required.
He got profits up to £1bn, one year anyway, by running the business like a trader would. He maximised profits in the short term, deciding that the long term was someone else's problem.
Even if that version of events is at all accurate – Sir Stuart would dispute it – it's long past the time when Mr Bolland could realistically blame his predecessor for anything.
About a year then – after which he either gets lauded as a retail genius or moves on, holding an utterly gigantic cheque as reward for his failure.
Perhaps the truth is that M&S is yesterday's news, a business in perpetual decline. It is never going to regain past glories. And perhaps those glories mostly exist in memory only. It has been a business in transition for at least 15 years.
That's like a faded football club pretending that its lowly league position is a blip, and that it will soon be challenging for the title again. The dwindling number of fans know different.
More than most retailers, the gap between M&S's glossy, appealing ads and the reality of what it is like in many of the stores is huge.
The retailer's huge advantage is that millions of people still want to like it. It doesn't make it easy.
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
iJobs Money & Business
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...
Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...