Marks & Spencer is “firing on all cylinders” and prepared to deliver this Christmas, according to its food boss Steve Rowe.
Rowe told Reuters: “This business hasn’t had foods and GM firing on all cylinders together for a long time. I think we’re very close to having a position where both the food and GM businesses are working positively.”
“There’s a love affair between M&S and the consumer, and when you upset your lover, sometimes it takes longer than you think it’s going to take for them to forgive you.”
Rowe said there were “really good positive signs” coming out of womenswear, where it has struggled for the past couple of years.
“I don’t think we’ll have a poor Christmas [in GM],” he said. “We all believe it is time to deliver.”
Meanwhile, M&S’s food business is outperforming the market. In its first quarter to June 28 total food sales rose 4.2% while like-for-likes increased 1.7%.
Rowe said that it was “gaining from the middle” market. Marks & Spencer’s food business has not suffered as much pressure from the discounters as the big four grocers as it sells mainly own-label produce.
However, Rowe said that 67% of its shoppers also visit the discounters. He said that people visited M&S for “something special”, which put it in good stead for Christmas. M&S sells one in four turkeys in the UK at Christmas.
Rowe, who has been at M&S for 25 years and whose father Joe was also an executive director at the retailer until 2000, told Reuters that he aspires for the top job at the business.
“[It’s] the best retailer probably in the world, in my opinion, a company I’ve worked for and loved for 25 years, of course I’d love to,” he said.