Blog: Leonie BarrieMarks loses its sparkle

Leonie Barrie | 22 December 2003

Retailers seem to be losing the game of cat and mouse that has broken out on the UK’s high streets. The drip of sales tags and special offers that I noticed at the beginning of the month had turned into a flood by Friday as retailers lose their nerve in the pre-Christmas shopping stakes.

While some analysts are forecasting a last-minute dash to the stores – this year, Christmas Day falls on a Thursday so a shopping frenzy is finally expected to break out this week – for others it could already be too late.

Women's fashion and partywear have proved spectacular turn-offs for festive shoppers, and media reports over the week-end suggest that this area is proving particularly problematic for Marks & Spencer, with sales currently running at 10 per cent below last year’s levels.      

Although it’s likely we won't know the full picture until Christmas Eve, M&S needs to take drastic action to achieve a turnaround of its core fashion business. An executive search for a new head of its clothing business is already underway, and although several high profile names have been mentioned nothing concrete has yet materialised. Is it too much to speculate that the role might be starting to turn into a poisoned chalice?


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