Blog: Dean BestSir Stuart risks being grounded

Dean Best | 7 January 2009

Don't let the jump in the share price fool you – Marks and Spencer continues to lose its sparkle.

Today's (7 January) news of store closures, job cuts and a poor Christmas heaps more pressure on chairman Sir Stuart Rose.

Sir Stuart is a natural optimist and this morning pointed to a recovery from M&S's food business after weeks of promotional activity.

"Food showed an improved trend quarter on quarter, reflecting the initiatives put in place around better values, promotional stance, innovation, increased availability and reduced waste,” he said.

Nevertheless, the admission that margins had been hit due to M&S's sharpened focus on price was a signal of the problems at the retailer.

Furthermore, the ongoing gloom over the UK economy, and the continuing moves from the likes of Tesco and Asda to cut prices, suggests more pain ahead for M&S.

Just a matter of months ago, Sir Stuart faced intense investor pressure over his position at the helm of M&S. However, he insisted this morning that the company's travails would not jeopardise his own position.

"If this was an aeroplane flying through a storm I don't think the best thing to do is nip up the front and chuck the pilot out," Sir Stuart was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.

There is little doubt, however, that M&S is experiencing some pretty severe turbulence at the moment.


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