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M&S clothes strategy gets thumbs up

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 02:02

May 15 - UK retailer Marks and Spencer has unveiled a key new clothing collection and a new strategy. Hayley Platt asks if it will reverse falling sales and ease pressure on CEO Marc Bolland.

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The make or break collection. That's the way some see Marks and Spencer's new autumn/winter clothes line. Some say Chief Executive Marc Bolland's job may be on the line if it gets a frosty reception. Ana Santi is from fashion magazine Drapers. SOUNDBITE: Ana Santi, Deputy Editor, Drapers, saying (English): "It's really, really important for them and a lot of expectation has been placed on this collection, on this new team, it's very important for Marc Bolland, the Chief Executive. There was some really strong pieces. I thought the coats were really lovely across all the sub-brands. But it is one season we need to give them a little bit of time." So a thumbs up from the fashion media - and a share price rise of 4% - but there's a long way to go. Clothing sales at M & S have fallen every quarter for almost two years. These designs are part of a new strategy to revamp women's wear and bring it in line with M & S's thriving food business. But more than half the retailer's customers are over 55 and that's a challenge. SOUNDBITE: Ana Santi, Deputy Editor, Drapers, saying (English): "I don't think you can be all things to all people and I think M&S have realised that and when you look at younger consumer that i think they were trying to chase a few seasons ago, I think they've realised that that's not the direction they should be going in. So it's the 30 to 35 plus onwards with a focus on the core customer." Its new strategy includes better quality clothes, made from fabrics like cashmere and leather. It's also reducing the number of lines by 10%, favoring stronger designs instead. Getting that message to customers is key, as is technology. M&S is investing 1 billion pounds over six years in logistics, IT and systems. It hopes a new e-commerce distribution centre will help grow its internet business. But money won't solve anything if the customers don't like what they see.

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M&S clothes strategy gets thumbs up

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 02:02