Food department staff to be given extra responsibilities as part of Bolland’s improvements

Full-year highlights

  • Underlying operating profit: Up 5.9% to £824.9m
  • UK underlying
  • operating profit: Up 5.3% to £677.9m
  • Group sales: Up 4.2% to £9.7bn
  • General merchandise like-for-likes: Up 3.2%
  • Food like-for-likes: Up 2.6%
  • Current trading:“Good start to new financial year”

Marks & Spencer is to devolve greater power to shopfloor staff as part of a wider store and operational overhaul designed to better cater for shoppers.

Staff in all of the retailer’s food departments will take on extended responsibilities, becoming accountable for designated sections.

They will be individually liable for everything from on-shelf availability of product to tidiness and visual merchandising and expected to be experts in their categories.

All food staff, about 20,000 people, will be affected to some degree.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said investing more power in staff would bring commercial benefits. He said: “We need to turn the company into a more customer-focused organisation and ownership of the business is very important.”

The change, effective from September, comes as M&S prepares for a £600m investment programme including improving shops and better segmenting its offer store by store to reflect local customer demographics such as age and affluence.

In a slap in the face to his predecessor, Sir Stuart Rose, Bolland said the £2bn store improvement programme undertaken by the former management did not improve stores’ appeal sufficiently.

Bolland said: “While the last store modernisation programme improved the core infrastructure of our stores, it has not delivered an inspirational shopping environment for our customers.”

Bolland said customers have found M&S difficult to shop in and changes are being made to navigation and sub-brand differentiation.

Stores will be grouped into clusters and a “macro spacing plan” initiated to “ensure the most efficient space allocation and layout for each store, meaning that stores of the same size will no longer necessarily carry the same catalogue”.

He insisted the change was “not rocket science” and might result in a variance of up to 15% of product in store. In an affluent area with lots of families, for instance, more space would be dedicated to kidswear and upscale brands such as Autograph.

Longstanding M&S staffer Neil Hyslop has been appointed director of space, and will be responsible for bringing together the interests of all parts of the business from property to trading and marketing.