Mark Bolland and the management team will be feeling some real pressure as they are now well into the second year of a three-year strategy to turn Marks & Spencer’s fortunes around, following the departure of Sir Stuart Rose. The only marginally good point is that the rate of decline has slowed, but this fact is unlikely to hold any water with an increasingly agitated share base. As yet, however, the growing sense of fear over the lack of headway being made has not transferred itself to the share price, which is up over 18% year-to-date.
The biggest problem still lies with the clothing lines that until now have failed to turn a profit. This has prompted a management reshuffle with Jon Dixon, manager of the successful food department, being reassigned to oversee the clothing area. What a successful food retailer will know or be able to bring to clothes retailing is yet to be seen, but so far his autumn/winter collection has received broadly good reviews. Of course it is sales that M&S need not plaudits, and only time will tell if that is what they get.