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M&S GM Director steps down amid sales drop

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High street retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) has reported disappointing results today as it announced that General Merchandise Executive Director Kate Bostock is to step down “by mutual consent”.

Total sales have fallen 0.9 per cent in its first quarter, while like-for-like (LFL) sales saw a 2.8 per cent drop.

Group sales decreased by 0.7 per cent following a massive slump in sales of general merchandise, which fell 5.1 per cent in total and 6.8 per cent on a LFL basis.

Bostock is set to leave the company on October 1st 2012 and will be succeeded by Belinda Earl, ex-CEO of Debenhams, Jaeger and Aquascutum, who will take over as Style Director on September 1st 2012 and will report to John Dixon, who will operate as Executive Director of General Merchandise following Bostock’s departure.

CEO Mark Bolland thanked Bostock for her hard work during her tenure, commenting: “I would like to thank Kate for the significant contribution she has made to the company.

“We are both agreed that this is the right time for her to be moving on from Marks and Spencer and we wish her every success in the future.”

Despite making gains in food with total sales up 2.9 per cent, M&S has lost market share in clothing, impacted by “merchandise issues in April.

John Ibbotson, Director of retail consultancy Retail Vision, commented: “Their umbrella and raincoat sales might have soared, but Marks and Spencer have clearly been hit hard by the exceptionally wet weather in May and June.

“While all retailers with seasonal lines are at risk from dramatically unseasonal weather, Marks have suffered more than most. Only their food department stayed afloat amid a deluge of bad numbers.

“SOS M&S. That’s the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from these numbers.”

It is hoped that the restructuring will boost sales for the retailer, which last month announced plans for its first bank, set to open later this month at its flagship store in Marble Arch .

Multichannel sales rose 14.9 per cent following initiatives aimed at improving the shopper experience and a strong focus on general merchandise aims to similarly improve performance.

A statement from the retailer said: “We have taken steps to strengthen the team, improve our buying and merchandising, and bring stock back on target for the Autumn/Winter season, which launches in stores later this month.

“While we expect the short term trading outlook to continue to be challenging, we are making strong progress against our goal of becoming an international, multi-channel retailer.”

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Published on Tuesday 10 July by Editorial Assistant

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