Marks & Spencer `will fare better that rivals in downturn'

MARKS & SPENCER, the troubled retailer, has been singled out as being among a small handful of clothing retailers who will benefit from a forthcoming downturn in the fashion industry. The slump is expected to put severe pressure on almost all businesses in the clothing sector.

According to a report by Verdict, the retail consultancy, clothing retailers will suffer weak consumer demand, low inflation, and rising costs in the next five years. Footwear retailers will fare worst, with some 600 shoe shops likely to close.

"This is not part of a cyclical pattern. This is the shape of things to come, and retail companies need to quickly get used to life in a low growth environment," said a Verdict spokesman.

The consultancy warns that the clothing and footwear industry is set to add over 10m square feet of retail space, equivalent to 6 Lakeside or Meadowhall shopping centres, against a backdrop of near-static like- for-like forecast volume growth.

Sales growth will reach a peak of just 2 per cent in 2002. Even so, sales per square foot in 2002 will be no greater than their level in 1997. Footwear will suffer negative growth in the period.

However, Verdict is full of praise for M&S, which it says will triumph over its rivals as margins crumble across the industry despite its massive recent setbacks. There were fresh reports at the weekend that its sales had fallen further.

The report predicts the company will pull through triumphantly, however.

"Marks & Spencer is changing further and faster than can yet be seen in the stores. It is rapidly embracing a culture that is genuinely putting customers at the top of the agenda and a management style that allows all its previous thinking to be challenged."

The report argues M&S will make dramatic gains in market share through a combination of lower prices and increased quality. In a flat market, other retailers will suffer as a direct consequence of M&S's strength. The report also singles out Next, Debenhams and Matalan as stronger performers because general retailers are likely to perform best.

Verdict says the current year will see the slowest growth in retail sales this decade. The situation would be worse still were it not for an expected benefit from the millennium.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£12500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Adviser - OTE £24,500

£22500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound and outbound calls with...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £40,000

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine