“Marks and Spencer’s shares tank after warning by new boss Steve Rowe”, writes the Evening Standard, on the news that more than £700m has been wiped off the market value of Marks & Spencer after its chief executive warned his turnaround plan for its struggling clothing business would blow a hole in profits in the short term (The Guardian).
Steve Rowe “spooked the stock market” by warning that his initial turnaround strategy, much of which hinges on investing in better pricing in its fashion section, could hit profits in the short term. (The Times £). Rowe “unleashed a brutal assassination of the retailer’s fortunes” and warned investors to brace themselves for lower profits and further sales drops while the board wrestled the company back to growth. (The Telegraph)
“M&S fails to fashion a revival in clothing”, writes the Financial Times (£) noting that like-for-like clothing sales have fallen in each of the past five years.
The Daily Mail writes Rowe has a master plan to turn around the fortunes of the 132-year-old chain – he wants to focus on its core customer who he nicknamed ‘Mrs M&S’. “She’s in her 50s, visits the store 18 times a year and spends £28 on clothes each time: Can Mrs M&S save Britain’s favourite store?” it asks. (The Daily Mail) But Mrs M&S isn’t very happy, notes The Times (£). “Despite years of loyalty, she feels a little “unloved” after her favourite store spent years chasing bright young things under 35 years old”.
Many of the papers focus on Rowe himself this morning. In a separate article on Rowe The Mail writes: “There was certainly none of the management gobbledegook which punctuated meetings with his often tetchy predecessor, Marc Bolland, the icy Dutchman whose urbane appearance and lofty manner never quite seemed to quite fit with this most British of high street institutions.” (The Daily Mail)
The Telegraph’s Ben Marlow asks whether M&S’ new boss can “really go from Saturday boy to saviour?” (The Telegraph), while The Guardian’s Nils Pratley wrtites that “Steve Rowe has good ideas. But we don’t need to hear about ’Mrs M&S’”. He praises Rowe’s “firm grip” on the problems, but argues he has a slightly looser grip on rhetoric. (The Guardian)
Maggie Pagano in The Mail advise Rowe to “be brave in chucking out the old, and ruthless on brands and stores”. (The Daily Mail)
Elsewhere, Sir Philip Green put a £10m a year limit on what he would pay towards an estimated £232m deficit in the BHS pension scheme in 2012, in spite of trustees pushing for more, MPs have heard (The Financial Times £). Margaret Downes said the trustees “could not move them off” a pledge to invest £10m a year into the scheme despite its growing deficit. (The Guardian)
Retail Acquisitions had done little due diligence on BHS’s pension scheme only a few weeks before the retailer was sold, it has emerged. (The Times £)
A pair of BHS suppliers have toppled into administration, resulting in 350 job losses, as the pain caused from the collapse of the retailer spreads through the sector. CUK Clothing and Courtaulds, makers of the Pretty Polly tights brand, have appointed RSM after the “administration of BHS added to the challenge of operating within a fiercely competitive market for seasonal products”. (The Telegraph)
The head of Coca-Cola in the UK has launched a withering attack on George Osborne’s sugar tax, saying it will not work and will hit the poorest members of society hardest. (The Telegraph)
US Foods, the private equity-owned food distributor, has raised $1.02bn in an initial public offering in what is shaping up to be the slowest year for American listings since the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009. (The Financial Times £)
Restoring Tesco to health may not be as perennial a subject as revitalising Marks & Sparks, but the task is even tougher if a note by Credit Suisse is anything to go by. They reckon that Tesco’s larger stores are doing even worse than previously thought. (The Times £)
Governments should tax meat production in order to stem the global rise in consumption and the environmental damage that goes with it, according to a UN expert. (The Guardian)
As thousands of low-wage workers plan to protest at McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting in Chicago on Thursday the company’s former US boss has warned them: if the minimum wage goes up, McDonald’s is likely to replace them with robots. “It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging french fries,” the former US chief executive Ed Rensi told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo. (The Guardian)