Rose needs quick fix to save fashion

Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose will have to deliver some quick fixes to buy the time he needs to solve the chain's deep-seated fashion problems.

The retailer's supply chain is in need of an overhaul to allow M&S to source fashionable product at better prices, but analysts believe the change will take a long time to deliver.

Shore Capital retail analyst John Stevenson said Rose will have to harvest some low-hanging fruit in the form of cost cuts.

'The pressure is on to deliver a turnaround and quite quickly,' he maintained.

'Elements of the strategy will have to be quantifiable. I expect there to be significant job cuts at head office.' Over the long term, Stevenson hoped Rose would outline an increase in direct sourcing.

In his make-or-break strategy presentation on July 12, Rose is expected to propose a focus on the core customer, introduce a clear pricing strategy, improve merchandising and speed up the supply chain.

Investec analyst Mark Charnock thought Rose would unveil changes in the supply chain and the strategic direction of M&S's clothing offer, but wanted some answers on how profitability would be boosted. 'I don't think he will announce that he is ditching sub-brands,' he said.

The Chambers retail consultant Sally Bain said the problem with M&S clothing has been how the core offer is segmented in stores. She said: 'It's a sea of merchandise. There is no clear communication of what it's trying to do,' She expected Rose to detail plans to clarify the offer by introducing lower opening price points.