Analyst lambasts Sir Stuart Rose for making 'no financial progress' at M&S
Marks & Spencer must change its strategy in a "fundamental way", close its Simply Food stores and open a new chain to attract young consumers if it is to thrive, a leading retail analyst has said.
According to Tony Shiret of Credit Suisse, Marks & Spencer has made "no financial progress" since executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose stepped in almost five years ago.
In a 108-page note, Shiret also raised the prospect of the need for a change in management if profits continue to slide.
Shiret said: "Even before the current rapid deterioration of profitability the company had made no financial progress outside of the £320m of largely supplier-funded cost savings initiated in 2004 and around £150m resulting from changes in accounting assumptions."
Shiret said the retailer's customer base is far too old and it has been ignoring younger shoppers.
He said: "Of greater concern has been the failure to address and reverse the company's drift towards a much older customer base … No business can have a long-term future with this type of demographic profile in our view."
He added that M&S should establish a "more relevant young chain" in its small stores, while serving its older customers in its larger stores.
Credit Suisse expects M&S's pre-tax profit to fall for the next three years. It forecasts that by 2011, it will come in at £325m, from £1bn last year.
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