Holmes calls for womenswear overhaul

Marks & Spencer chief executive Roger Holmes said the womenswear department is 'too difficult' to shop, and the division needs to learn from lessons in menswear.

He has identified the need for the introduction of more sub-brands and better segmentation of product.

Holmes' comments were made as M&S announced uninspiring sales figures and a performance in womens-wear 'below expectations', pushing clothing sales down 0.5 per cent.

Sales of food have also 'faltered', he said.

The retailer will 'coordinate product by segment around particular styles', said Holmes. 'Season by season, we will exemplify that by introducing new brands, as we have in menswear.'

This autumn, M&S will introduce the Limited Collection brand in specially created areas at 66 stores. Projected sales of the brand are£100 million a year. It will be the biggest womenswear launch since Per Una in 2001, which now turns over£250 million.

Holmes also outlined a host of strategic plans that include improving sourcing, stock intensification, staff cuts and an image overhaul.

In food, Holmes said M&S was well positioned to push into the healthy-eating market, in response to increasing concerns over food content.

Overall sales at M&S increased by 1.7 per cent to£8.15 billion in the year to April 3. Before tax and exceptionals, profits rose 0.5 per cent to£763.2 million.