Beckham gets the red card in clearout of brand names at M&S

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The Independent Online

David Beckham, the England football captain, is to be dropped by Marks & Spencer as part of the clearout by its new chief executive, Stuart Rose.

The shake-up was unveiled last week by Mr Rose in the high-street retailer's battle against a £9.1bn bid approach by Philip Green.

Two days after the plans were announced, Mr Green withdrew his potential offer.

Mr Rose announced he was selling the group's financial services business, taking full control of its womenswear range, Per Una, and bringing down the curtain on some of M&S's many brands.

The Independent on Sunday has learnt that Beckham's DB07 childrenswear range is to go, with sportswear brand View From and menswear label Blue Harbour also under threat.

M&S struck a £10m agreement with the footballer two years ago to launch DB07. The deal covered seven ranges, the third of which was unveiled a couple of months ago with the last one due to hit the stores late next year.

If M&S were to renew its contract with Beckham, it would have to agree a new deal by the end of September so that it would have enough time to design and manufacture the ranges. However, Mr Rose is understood to have decided that the England captain is past his sell-by date and that the contract is not value for money.

A number of factors have conspired against Beckham since he agreed his original deal with the then M&S chairman, Luc Vandevelde.

His transfer to Spanish giants Real Madrid from Manchester United last summer reduced his public exposure in Britain, and the brand was devalued by the player taking the squad number "23", not his famous "7", at Real Madrid.

Stories alleging that he had had an extra-marital affair surfaced earlier this year, and at this summer's Euro 2004 championships, the England captain showed poor form and missed two crucial penalties.

At M&S, Mr Vandevelde left after being criticised for not spending enough time at the company. Roger Holmes, whom he brought in as chief executive, was ousted and Mr Rose, who had previously run Arcadia, the Dorothy Perkins-to-Principles group, came in as the new chief executive.

His operational review is aimed at saving £250m by cutting costs and improving margins in 2005-06, and £320m in 2006-07.

Mr Rose said this would be achieved by better deals with M&S's suppliers and a simplification of the range that the retailer offers. He is launching a new marketing campaign under the slogan "Your M&S".

Mr Rose said that the stores are too cluttered and the group offers too many lines under too many brands.

Sources close to M&S admit that it will be a hard slog to turn around the retailer. A new womenswear director, Kate Bostock, is joining from Asda, but will not arrive until the autumn. A new head of the food operation has yet to be appointed.

The group's homewares side, Lifestore, is to be shut, only months after its high-profile launch.

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