Marks & Spencer shakes up top team as non-food sales fall - Business News - Business - The Independent

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

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skies as 007 for first time
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Steven Gerrard celebrates after his late winner
champions leagueGerrard and Balotelli ensure victory
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week