Blog: Leonie BarrieM&S works to steady its business

Leonie Barrie | 16 July 2012

After months, if not years, of speculation, news on just-style last week was dominated by the confirmation that Kate Bostock, the general merchandise executive director at Marks & Spencer, is to leave the company after first quarter general merchandise sales plunged.

The UK's largest clothing retailer is shaking up its senior management team as it continues to try to steady its business after booking its worst first quarter performance in three years, with like-for-like general merchandise sales tumbling 6.8%.

In a number of special reports, we look at the feedback from leading retail analysts, timeline the company's clothing performance, and comment on the challenges the new executives will continue to face as they attempt to turn around the clothing division.

Over at luxury fashion brand Burberry, the UK's second largest clothing company, first-quarter revenue growth was described as "robust" even though it slowed to 11%. Despite a "more challenging external environment," the firm is focusing on the positives - including "enormous" opportunities in China, higher selling prices and opportunities for British-made goods.

Overall, UK retailers were saved by the Jubilee holiday last month as a so-called "bunting boost" helped drive demand at the beginning of the period - but the wettest June on record also meant sales of summer clothing and footwear were a washout, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium.

And with just a couple of weeks to go before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, there was outrage in the US after it was revealed that Olympic uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren Corp for American athletes were made in China. US lawmakers criticised the US Olympic Committee for the decision.

The latest inter-governmental report on the world's cotton trade has lifted its forecast for global cotton stocks in the upcoming season, in a move that adds further weight to projections that international prices are set to stay low for another year. The International Cotton Advisory Council (ICAC) expects stocks to grow by 10% to 15.1m tons in the 2012/13 season, which begins on 1 August - up from a forecast of 14.5m tons just a month ago.

Meanwhile, other reports on just-style looked at opportunities for textile and clothing firms in Croatia, which is set to become the 28th member state of the European Union on 1 July 2013.

And the Indian textile and apparel industry was told it needs to evolve and adapt quickly to overcome changing patterns in demand from its major export markets.


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