Norman says a public M&S is good for retail

Retail veteran and Tory MP Archie Norman has insisted that Marks & Spencer should remain a publicly quoted company in the interests of the retail sector.

Norman, who famously turned around Asda in the 1990s with a team that included Allan Leighton, now Royal Mail chairman, said M&S is a British institution.

'I would like to see a highly successful M&S as a public company. I would like to see it become what it should be,' he said.

Verdict analyst Richard Hyman agreed that the impact of M&S on the industry was significant. 'It's a very important business both for the retail sector and the UK economy. As a publicly quoted company it is much more likely to be investing for the longer term. Although M&S's cost base requires careful attention, it requires investment in the future. It requires investment that's going to lead to significant share growth. It's a business that should and could have a much bigger market share than it does.'

Seymour Pierce retail analyst Richard Ratner believes that if Philip Green is successful in acquiring the business, and he delivers a cash and equity deal, at most 25 per cent of shares would be publicly listed.

'It would be nice to see it remain in the public domain because it's the largest (fashion) retailer,' he said.