High street chains eagerly await M&S recovery

No matter who takes control of Marks & Spencer, its revival would be welcomed by store groups, who expect the high street to become more attractive to shoppers as a result.

House of Fraser deputy chief executive and finance director David Adams said a resurgent M&S would 'reflect well' on other retailers.

'A well-managed M&S is good news for the high street,' he said. 'I don't think it matters who owns it, because it doesn't matter to the customer.'

He added it was a win-win situation for the department store chain. 'If there is less choice, investors will put money into House of Fraser. However, a good retail performance across the board makes retail stocks generally a better bet.'

Evolution Beeson Gregory analyst Nick Bubb said: 'Philip Green's move is certainly a big vote of confidence for high street retailing, because he is not stupid and would not be doing it if he thought a recession was on the way. Everyone can take heart from his implied view that consumer spending will be resilient.'

Woolworths head of corporate affairs Nicole Lander said anything that increased footfall was welcome. 'We are seeing a renaissance on the high street at the moment with what's happening at Boots and WHSmith. Competition is good for business and customers.'

Another department store chief said the adverse publicity dogging M&S had been bad news for the sector generally. 'We would not want to be in a town centre where there was no M&S. It is a very positive asset,' he added.