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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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M&S lingerie chief Schaffer leaves

Category : Business, World News

Marks and Spencer’s director of lingerie and beauty Janie Schaffer leaves the retailer after three months.

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M&S struggles in the multi-channel slow lane

Category : Business

Stakes are high for Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland as retailer struggles to adapt to today’s world of internet shopping and ordering

Not good, but not horrendous. That’s been the pattern of Marks & Spencer’s sales updates in its general merchandise division for about three quarters now, which is one reason why big shareholders’ dissatisfaction with chief executive Marc Bolland’s leadership has never quite reached boiling point. There is deep frustration, certainly, but also a grudging acceptance that there’s little justification in throwing out a boss who promised a three-year invigoration before the three years are up.

That statement holds even though Bolland was obliged to abandon his original three-year sales target after only one lap of the track. The compensating factor is that he has clearly revived the food business, which was regarded as the bigger problem back in 2010 – like-for-like sales were up 4% in the latest quarter and have been purring for a while.

But there’s no getting away from the fact that minus 3.8% in general merchandise, the seventh quarter in a row of decline, was poor. Bolland’s date in the last-chance saloon comes with the autumn/winter ranges, in stores from July and the first work from the latest set of clothing executives to try to discover a wow factor. If the autumn and winter collection is a flop, Bolland will struggle to survive in his £1m-a-year post.

The personal stakes, then, are clear. But it is also plain that there isn’t an alternative strategy to the one M&S has got – that is, shelling out huge sums to upgrade distribution and IT systems that belong, literally, to another century and struggle to adapt to today’s world of internet shopping and ordering.

Major fruits of the spending will arrive soon with a shiny new e-commerce distribution centre. A game-changer? Well, it will help. But a measure of how far behind the “multi-channel” curve M&S remains is this: website-related trade represents about 15% of its general merchandise sales, whereas Next’s Directory business is already up at 35% of group sales. At a rough approximation, one could say that M&S is about half a decade off the multi-channel pace.

It may be that one of Bolland’s mistakes was his failure to spell out to shareholders at the outset the size of M&S’s under-investment in distribution and logistics in the clothing division. Too late now; judgment day approaches.

Marks and Spencer sales nudge ahead

Category : Business, World News

Marks and Spencer sales rose slightly in the first three months of the 2013, as good trading from its food business offset a fall in clothing sales.

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M&S ‘warned over asbestos risk’

Category : World News

Marks & Spencer was warned customers and staff may have been put at risk from asbestos contamination more than 10 years before receiving a £1m fine, a BBC investigation finds.

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Rose replaces Grade in Ocado role

Category : Business, World News

Online grocer Ocado appoints former Marks and Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose to replace Lord Michael Grade as chairman.

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M&S releases sales figures early

Category : Business, World News

Marks and Spencer reports a 1.8% drop in sales over the festive period, as it releases its trading statement early following a leak.

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Profits fall at Marks and Spencer

Category : World News

Marks and Spencer, the UK’s biggest clothing retailer, has posted first-half pre-tax profits of £290m for the six months to the end of September, down 9.7%.

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Kate Bostock to join M&S’s online rival Asos

Category : Business

Internet fashion site set to confirm appointment of former Marks & Spencer fashion boss

Marks & Spencer’s former fashion boss Kate Bostock is to join online rival Asos – days after leaving the struggling high street retailer. Her appointment to a senior executive role at the fast growing Asos is due to be confirmed on Wednesday.

Bostock was one of the most powerful women in UK retail at M&S, overseeing all departments except food.

She has been linked with Asos for months, and she will bring useful big business experience to the internet fashion site which has become a hugely popular destination for younger shoppers and prospered through the downturn.

Prior to joining M&S in 2004 Bostock was product director for Asda’s George label and before that ran the childrenswear division of Next.

Her departure from M&S was announced in July when the company unveiled one of its worst trading performances in the past decade, with quarterly sales of general merchandise – Bostock’s fashion and homewares departments – down nearly 7%. At the time the retailer’s chief executive Marc Bolland – with whom Bostock is said to have had a strained relationship – said he was “taking the necessary steps” to improve the performance of fashion and home.

Last year Bostock earned £944,000 at M&S – down on previous years when she had received controversial retention bonuses designed to keep her in the business.

FTSE closes flat on another quiet day as one-in-five shares bought or sold is in Lloyds and just 20 director dealings

Category : Business

Volume of shares traded remains at all-time lows and former M&S head of clothing pockets nearly £900,000 in share sale

In what is shaping up to become one of the quietest weeks for trading ever, the FTSE 100 closed up a solitary point today, at 5835.

Silence appears to be running through the City’s trading floors, as a mere 584m shares changed hands.

One in five of those shares bought and sold were for Lloyds Banking Group (one of the day’s biggest risers, up 1p, 3.2%, at 32.2p) while the smattering of punters still awake swapped Vodafone shares. Together, the phone company and bank share deals accounted for 41% of the total volume on the FTSE 100 today.

And in case that was not evidence enough as to just how quiet the markets are, just 20 companies from the entire London market (FTSE 100, 250, AIM etc) reported that their directors have bought or sold shares.

Most notable was former Marks and Spencer head of clothing, Kate Bostock, cashing in her 2009 performance-related shares bonus which were released in June worth £434,890.

She also sold a further £441,045 worth of shares at the same time (boldly informing the stock market of both transactions at 4.25pm in the same announcement).

It means the former director – who left M&S recently after women’s fashion sales slumped – pocketed a cool £876,000.

Company news was thin on the ground.

Barrick Gold confirmed it is in talks to sell a majority stake in its African unit to Chine National Gold and would make it China’s largest mining deal in Africa. Shares closed up 31.4p, 8%, at 425.1p.

"We monetize on mobile," says Zillow (Z) CEO Spencer Rascoff, suggesting this as the bull case on his stock. "It’s about trying to create an ad unit that is a service to a user, not a nuisance," with the result being a user of…

Category : Stocks

“We monetize on mobile,” says Zillow (Z) CEO Spencer Rascoff, suggesting this as the bull case on his stock. “It’s about trying to create an ad unit that is a service to a user, not a nuisance,” with the result being a user of Zillow on a cell phone is 3X more likely to contact an advertising agent than a user of Zillow on a desktop. (two highly-followed firms having trouble with mobile) Post your comment!

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