Three cheers for Marc Bolland, whose concertina turnaround plan has at last given M&S something to celebrate, after the retailer delivered its first increase in annual profits in four years.
Undoubtedly the biggest breakthrough has been in the Group’s general merchandise division which, after 14 consecutive quarters of falling sales, has returned to growth, indicating that its struggling clothing range may have finally turned a corner.
Through investing in the Group’s store portfolio and product innovations, while bringing in the help of top designers and celebrity endorsers, M&S's designs have achieved their goal of winning over both the fashion industry and discerning shoppers alike. In addition, it appears after the Christmas chaos of last year as M&S.com had to delay deliveries by up to two weeks, the Group has finally got it’s ducks in a row for its online platform as sales were back in growth for the final quarter.
However, M&S still has some way to go if it is going to live up to the example set by close rival Next. While M&S may outperform in revenue terms, Next wins hands down when it comes to profits, suggesting Bolland could drive operational efficiency and boost profit margins still further.
However, the question now on everyone’s lips is; after proving his worth in arguably the toughest job in high street history, will Marc Bolland quit while he's ahead and seek out new challenges? After all, fashion is a fickle business.
Julie is a law graduate who qualified with Price Waterhouse in 1994. Julie joined Smith & Williamson in 1997 and became a partner in 2001. With Mike Stevenson, Julie set up Middleton Partners offices in Salisbury and Southampton, both of which are now part of Begbies Traynor.
Julie is a member of the Insolvency Practitioners Association and is a Fellow of The Association of Business Recovery Professionals. Julie deals with all aspects of Corporate Recovery and turnaround work and takes all form of personal insolvency appointments.