MBS’ retail expert, John Pal, comments on Marks & Spencer’s recent results
“If someone said let’s build a retail firm that tries to straddle the ‘Big Middle’ in clothing and a premium food offer it would probably be met with scepticism. This is where M&S appears to be. However, CEO Marc Bolland has stated that M&S can be seen as an ‘affordable specialist’ in food. It is in foods where innovation and growth has come from, backed by a quality team. The challenge for M&S is to replicate the innovation and quality seen in foods to other parts of the merchandise offer.
It is all very well that the media and fashion experts have made positive comments about the recently launched clothing ranges but the acid test is consumer response. Bolland has made encouraging noises about the launch but it will take more than just a great advertising campaign to get clothing moving in the right direction as M&S faces severe competition. Price is playing a key part in many consumers’ purchase decisions, and accounts for Primark’s continued growth. M&S has been mounting a series of money-off campaigns aimed at card holders, but once consumers have been trained to shop on price then it is difficult to wean them off that.”