Rose says back-to-basics is the best way forward

In his third week at the helm of the UK's most famous high street store group, new boss Stuart Rose has vowed to return Marks & Spencer to its golden age.

Rose gave a broad-brush outline of his ideas to revive the ailing fashion offer as he drafts his defence against a possible revised bid from billionaire tycoon Philip Green.

Rose called for a back-to-basics campaign in which the M&S brand would be given more prominence. He said that the legion of brands under the M&S umbrella was confusing, after visiting a number of shops last week.

'The stores are cluttered. It feels like five businesses under one business, not one joined-up holistic whole,' said Rose.

He acknowledged the success of exclusive labels Per Una and Blue Harbour, but questioned the significance of brands such as Sp, Autograph and Per Una Due.

The initial push, which Rose described as 'common sense', will be to improve product ranges, merchandising and store environments. Also in the pipeline are changes to the pricing structure and more responsibility for store managers.

He dismissed arguments that M&S should ditch its heritage and imitate more modern retail rivals, such as Next. He believes there is demand for the M&S ethos of two decades ago, when quality was as important as price.

'I want to bring back the five values - quality, value, service, innovation and trust. They worked in 1994 and they should work in 2004. I want to make them the driving mantra of the business,' said Rose.

At the food division, Rose said there is a need for better marketing and a wider offer. It is also likely that expansion of the Lifestore concept, which Rose has said was 'too indulgent', will be stalled.

Rose has also reportedly ordered costs to be rigorously controlled. He told staff to treat every penny spent as if it were their own.

M&S will unveil a detailed breakdown of its turnaround strategy on July 12, two days before the company's annual general meeting.

Verdict chairman Richard Hyman said the changes Rose has introduced so far make a lot of sense. However, he added that the key thing will be to deliver improvements in stores.