Retailer has no definite plans
Marks & Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose has been asking customers their views as he considers the possibility of making a bid for the Sainsbury's business.

Speaking at the Retail Week Conference, Rose said 'assets such as Sainsbury's do not come into play very often and we'd be crazy not to look at it'.

However, Rose would not be moved on any definite plans. 'It's one thing to consider the possibility over a glass of wine and another to go down that road, but watch this space,' he said.

However, yesterday evening Marks & Spencer issued a statement saying: 'The board has decided that it does not intend to make an offer for Sainsbury's at this time.'

Speaking about the Marks & Spencer road to recovery, Rose told delegates that the three most important things for a retailer is product, environment and service. He said that product is the most important and the rest will follow.

When asked whether the retailer's recent successful advertising campaigns have played a part in the recovery, Rose said: 'Advertising is not worth a penny unless you can deliver on that promise. Advertising is a very important piece of the puzzle of putting Marks & Spencer back on track, but unless customers can't find that product and quality in stores then it won't work.'

Rose added that in the dark days of Marks & Spencer, the retailer became introspective and didn't move to where the customer wanted to be. He explained that now the retailer is forward thinking, highlighting its green pledge as an example. 'Our customers are concerned about the environment and we recognise that. We started back in spring last year with our Look Behind the Label campaign and now we have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2012,' he said.

He argued that green issues are not just a trend. 'It [green issues] is like smoking in public. People thought that it would never get banned and now it has been. Green issues will creep in from the bottom with pester power, right up to the older generations who have the spare time to get themselves on the internet and learn about issues such as climate change and the generation in the middle will be squeezed from both sides.'