Heartland customers come first, says Rose

Newly appointed Marks & Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose plans a back-to-basics approach to recapture its heartland customers.

Rose, who arrived on Tuesday with a£1.25 million signing-on fee, said: 'This is fundamentally a sound business, but it needs to harness its energy and focus. It's about motherhood and apple pie. It's about making customers happy and fulfilling their needs.'

He continued: 'We'll be aiming at the 10 million people that come to our stores every week. My job is to make sure we sell more to the existing customer base. It's not even a question of bringing more people into the stores.'

A well-informed source said M&S staff had reacted positively to Rose's appointment.

Shore Capital analyst John Stevenson said Rose's appointment would make it 'less likely' the M&S board would support a Philip Green bid. He said Rose would drive cultural change and cut excess costs.

He said: 'We believe Rose will be able to engineer significant improvements in store standards and merchandising. Equally, we suspect Rose will move to cut any white elephants, namely Lifestore and expensive format trials.'

A friend said Rose would get support from associates Charles Wilson and Steven Sharp, who are also going to M&S. '(Rose) will be focusing on product and customer relations - he's a great merchant.

'Steven will improve the focus and clarity of product and how this is communicated in-store. Charles will focus on pricing, logistics and IT.

'Fundamentally, there's a lot of goodwill out there towards M&S,' he concluded.