Kingfisher exec writes off legacy retailers for losing touch with their customers
Past success has hindered the progress of Marks & Spencer and other struggling legacy retailers, according to Kingfisher chief executive for international and development Ian Cheshire.

The comments could not have come at a worse time for the embattled food to fashion retailer, which is expected to unveil poor interim results on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Retail Week/Harvey Nash business breakfast yesterday, Cheshire said M&S had reminded him of a cartoon character running off the top of a cliff but still going like the 'clappers' unaware it was about to plummet.

'M&S [thought] that it has customers that will always be there until they die,' said Cheshire. 'Well, serfdom was abolished years ago.'

Cheshire was invited to speak on the topic of whether UK retail had lost touch with its customers at the event to launch recruitment company Harvey Nash and Retail Week's annual salary survey.

Harvey Nash circulated a memo prior to the breakfast asking attendees, including representatives from Harrods, House of Fraser, Carphone Warehouse and Superdrug, to list which retailers they thought had lost touch with customers but also which understood their shoppers.

The 'losing' retailers were M&S, Sainsburys, WHSmith and Laura Ashley.

Commenting on the list, Cheshire said: 'I think in the last five years they have lost their way structurally, and I don't mean just a bad season, but the tide has turned for these organisations.'