Marks & Spencer shakes up top team as non-food sales fall

 

Marks & Spencer's worst trading performance for three years triggered a boardroom casualty today after its womenswear range failed to strike a chord with shoppers.

The UK's biggest fashion retailer said sales of women's clothes had been hit by the wet weather and a shortage of some of its most popular lines, while it admitted to analysts it was losing market share.

That drove a 6.8% fall in non-food like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to June 30 - its worst performance since December 2008.

Kate Bostock, who is head of general merchandise, will leave the group in October, while former Debenhams and Jaeger boss Belinda Earl has been tasked with revitalising the offer in the newly created role of style director.

While Marks avoided a shareholder rebellion at its annual meeting, some retail watchers said Ms Bostock had been made a scapegoat in order to take the heat off chief executive Marc Bolland.

Pressure has been mounting on the Dutchman to justify a pay packet that is potentially worth up to £6 million after he recently oversaw the retailer's first fall in profits for three years.

To make matters worse, M&S stock market value has at times recently slipped below rival Next, while online fashion store ASOS added to the strain by reporting a better-than-expected 8% rise in UK sales today.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said: "M&S's problems in womenswear go far beyond the weather, as they are clearly losing market share.

"M&S desperately needs some stability in top management, but Marc Bolland is fighting for his own job so he has, somewhat predictably, made poor Kate Bostock, the head of M&S clothing, the scapegoat for the poor first quarter trading."

Ms Earl, who will work for the chain for two to three days a week, left Jaeger earlier this year after a period of sick leave.

The former Debenhams chief executive will work closely with John Dixon, who is currently in charge of food but will take over as head of general merchandise. He has been with the company for 26 years and is seen as a potential successor to Mr Bolland.

But Ms Earl may have a tough job ahead of her, as M&S's clothes have been criticised as frumpy and struggling to appeal to a younger audience, despite high profile adverts featuring the likes of Gary Barlow and Myleene Klass.

And today's figures will fuel fears that Marks, which has 700 stores in the UK, is losing its grip on the key womenswear market.

Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George said: "Womenswear has been off trend and a rebranding exercise has not yet gained any traction.

"But I think they are generally doing the right things but it takes a while to get the message across to consumers."

Mr Bolland said the stock issues were a continuation of the problems it reported in April, when it did not buy enough of some of its best-selling lines and it could have sold more than double the number of pump shoes.

Marks said it is confident that it is taking the necessary steps to address the poor performance of its non-food business.

As well as the shake-up in the management team, it has improved buying and merchandising and believes its stock will be back on target in time for the autumn-winter season, which will be launched in stores later this month.

Sales of coats, jackets and hosiery have done well amid the grim early summer weather but the fall in sales of casualwear hurt it because it traditionally makes up a large proportion of its sales at this time of year.

The appointments were welcomed in the City, with shares up 2.5% despite the disappointing sales figures.

Meanwhile, food sales, which were boosted by the celebrations surrounding the Diamond Jubilee, rose 0.6%.

Overall like-for-like sales were 2.8% lower but this was the company's worst performance since the quarter to March 2009.

The group also said the roll-out of its new design of stores was on track, after it previously admitted its outlets were difficult to shop in.

PA

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Telesales & Sales Support Apprentice

£221.25 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a well established Inter...

Client Relationship Manager - SQL, Python

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Relationship Manager - SQL...

**Financial Services Tax**

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Take your chance to join the...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit