This week, Marks & Spencer boss Steve Rowe was showing off the new season’s lines to the media’s fashionistas.
Next week he will be facing the City on a red-letter day as he unveils full-year results. Then, it will be the fashionability of the retailer’s shares rather than its wares that will be in focus.
When M&S last updated in January, there were signs of improvement at the under pressure apparel division.
Clothing and home like-for-likes were up over the Christmas quarter, although flattered by a change to the reporting period.
“There is some speculation that M&S may have done better than expected in clothing”
Despite the timing difference, there were signs of progress as initiatives such as a cutback of promotions and range rationalisation took effect.
Rowe was anxious to point out though that in the final quarter, Sale timing and a late Easter would impact performance.
Anecdotally, there is some speculation that M&S may have done better than expected in clothing.
Whether that’s so will become clear next week. However, perhaps as important as the numbers will be the mood music.
A year ago, Rowe had barely sat down in his new role as chief executive.
He’s since made clear that there is lots to do as he seeks to simplify M&S and restore the place of “customers at its heart”.
“The extent of change over the last year is noticeable and M&S looks more match-fit”
He will likely make similar points again at the results.
However, the extent of change over the last year is noticeable and M&S looks more match-fit.
In fact, Rowe maintained at the time of the interim results last November that “customers are already noticing a difference, particularly in clothing and home”.
If Rowe is able to say the same again next week, and provide the evidence to back that view, then momentum at M&S is gaining speed.
Just a few days ago, who had heard of WannaCry?
Now it has entered the vocabulary, indelibly stamped on society’s consciousness following the unprecedented cyber attacks affecting nearly 100 countries.
In the UK, the NHS bore the brunt of the offensive. However, big-name businesses ranging from FedEx to Telefonica were also hit.
“The advent of new technology has brought, along with new opportunities, the threat of a tsunami of cyber-crime”
Although retailers do not seem to have been affected, the barrage came hot on the heels of a hack into one of department store Debenhams’ online partners, in which customer details – including financial information – were stolen.
Retailers have always had to contend with crime such as shoplifting in their bricks-and-mortar stores.
However, the advent of new technology has brought, along with new opportunities, the threat of a tsunami of cyber-crime that grows daily.
From denial-of-service attacks to ‘credential stuffing’, the lexicon of the new online underworld is being added to apace.
More than ever before, data and technology security will feature on boardroom agendas because the consequences of a breach could be catastrophic.
Are you and your business taking sufficient action to counter the criminals?