Sharper M&S on cards under buying king Green

If Philip Green becomes owner of Marks & Spencer, the legendary high street group will never be the same again.

At a time when sourcing skill is seen as one of the key retail capabilities, Green is acknowledged as the best.

'Just in case one thinks that Stuart Rose has equal strengths in this area, look at what happened to the intake margins at Arcadia when Philip took over,' said Seymour Pierce retail analyst Richard Ratner.

'There is a hell of a lot of stock in the pipeline that will take up to a year to come through. But (once it does) the product on the shopfloor will be much more focused, with a far better pricing architecture,' he said.

Ratner suspected M&S could be overpaying for clothing by between 5 per cent and 10 per cent, and there was 'huge potential' for improved margins.

Green could split the gains between price cuts and pure profit.

Ratner also questioned the future of Vittorio Radice: 'He and Philip don't speak the same language, and I don't think he and Rose do either.'

Richard Hyman, chairman of retail researcher Verdict, said: 'I think structurally the business would look similar. Where it would look different is operationally.

'Philip Green has a unique way of running a retail business - with very short reporting lines. There isn't really anyone in UK retailing, or global retailing, like him.'

Hyman said that the tycoon operates 'quite a sparse hierarchy', implying jobs cuts would be on the cards with Green in charge.

He believed Green could also have a positive effect on M&S's food division.

'He will get less involved with food, but he is very good at identifying the shortest route between two points,' said Hyman. 'He knows what he wants and he sets out to achieve that in the shortest possible time.'