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Leading Article: Consumers will profit from the rise and fall of our high-street titans

THIS IS the week that the country finally woke up to the crisis in our high streets. There have been disappointing company results, fears of increased competition, and rumours of takeovers. Familiar names such as M&S, Sainsbury and Boots continue to turn in poor share performances. Yet no one should be surprised; even a cursory trawl round the aisles at these old favourites reveals a general dowdiness and a lacklustre line of goods that would dispirit the most nostalgic customer.

Marks & Spencer unveils plan to kickstart recovery as profits slide

MARKS & SPENCER yesterday unveiled a fresh package of measures to help kick start a recovery as it reported a near halving of interim profits and a gloomy trading update, which prompted a fresh round of full- year profit downgrades in the City. There is even speculation that M&S may have to cut its dividend, which is no longer covered by earnings.

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.

Outlook: On your Marks

THIS TIME last year Marks & Spencer wouldn't have known a PR campaign from a chicken tikka masala. According to the former chairman, Sir Richard Greenbury, the press was there to be at best tolerated but preferably ignored. Now, having discovered the art of publicity-seeking due to reduced circumstances, the old girl just can't stop herself. She is raising her skirts all over the place.

Matalan profits soar as Monsoon flags

THE CHANGING nature of high street spending was dramatically underlined yesterday by the contrasting fortunes of two clothing retailers. Matalan, the discount retailer announced soaring profits and an aggressive expansion plan, while Monsoon, the upmarket women's fashion group, reported its first profits fall in13 years.

Outlook: Discounts pay off for clothes retailers

IF EVER further evidence were needed that Britain has turned from a nation of shopkeepers into an army of bargain hunters, then yesterday's soaraway results from Matalan surely provided it. Driven on by the media and political campaign on rip-off prices, together with the possibility of a Wal-Mart inspired price war, Britain's shoppers now prowl the high streets mad-eyed and foaming at the mouth, desperate to hunt out the keenest prices.

Market Report: Merger rumours keep lines busy at Colt Telecom

COLT TELECOM was one of the market's hot shots yesterday as traders picked it as the next target in the consolidation-mad phone sector.

Market Report: Matalan rises on talk of bumper sales

THE INDUSTRIAL components maker Cirqual is believed to be inching closer to a bid. The company has been tight-lipped since announcing that it was in takeover talks last month. However, yesterday the shares jumped 13p to 228.5p amid rumours that an offer of more than 240p - valuing Cirqual at around pounds 70m - is on its way. The identity of the bidder is not known but dealers speculate that rivals L Gardner or Fenner could be interested.

Money: No need to be freaked by Wal-Mart

THE LATEST NEWS FROM THE MOTLEY FOOL

Wal-Mart set to squeeze UK supermarket prices

The US giant taking over Asda will force the other food stores to sharpen up. By Hilary Clarke

Shoe shops `languish in the Dark Ages'

MANY BRITISH shoe shops are poorly run, lack differentiation and are overly dominated by factory-led procedures rather than design, a new survey says today.

Smart Matalan is all priced up

THERE ARE not many success stories among clothing retailers at the moment but Matalan, the discount operator, is one that is worthy of the accolade.

Kingfisher brightens retail picture

KINGFISHER, the B&Q to Woolworths retail group, brought a ray of sunshine to Britain's gloomy high street yesterday as it reported solid growth in Christmas sales, led by growth at Woolworths and Superdrug.

C&A ends secret counter-culture

News Analysis: The famous high street name hopes radical changes will halt its market share fall

Heavy weather for retail newcomers

News Analysis: Monsoon shares have halved since the company came to the market in February. Is this just part of the general gloom in retailing or is it something more?
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