Blog: Good news, by George?
Leonie Barrie | 8 November 2005
Things are certainly looking up for Marks & Spencer again, bolstered in financial markets by today’s surprise announcement that it has persuaded ‘per una’ head George Davies to stay on at the company. With typical understatement, M&S said it was “pleased” that Davies will continue to run the popular per una line on a full time basis until the end of June 2006. Just last month, though, the talk was of Davies’ resignation after the two sides failed to agree on a contract extension – with M&S refusing to be held to ransom over Davies’ financial demands. So assuming M&S CEO Stuart Rose has managed to secure a compromise on the terms of the deal then he’s obviously achieved something of a coup by getting Davies to stay on.
But maybe it’s not quite as simple as this. It’s debatable whether Davies is really needed to continue to boost the fortunes of the per una range – which currently accounts for 20 per cent of all of Marks and Spencer women’s wear sales. Stuart Rose and Kate Bostock have been working hard to turn around the other women’s wear collections – which by default account for a whopping 80 per cent of sales – and judging by the positive feedback in consumer magazines the old M&S magic is starting to ring true again. The renewed focus on better styling and quality, coupled with action on price points, has started to pay off, and turning its own-label lines into a hit with the fashion conscious and the fashion press is surely where M&S ’s fortunes will ultimately lie.
If he wasn’t at M&S there’s no doubt that Davies would have found some way to go into competition with his former employer – and at this point in the retailers’ recovery that must be a worrying thought. So maybe it’s a case of “better the devil you know…”
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