Why Marks & Spencer's investors haven't all revolted on Marc Bolland (yet) in two charts

Catherine Neilan
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Marc Bolland: Under his tenure, Marks & Spencer has recorded 14 consecutive quarters of decline in clothing (Source: Getty)

Marks & Spencer's chief executive Marc Bolland has come in for a pounding yet again, after the retailer revealed another set of dismal results last week.

Like-for-likes in general merchandise, which includes clothing, fell 5.8 per cent for the 13 weeks to December 27, the 14th consecutive quarter M&S has recorded declines in this division.

The last time the high street favourite grew like-for-likes in its GM arm was the second quarter of 2011, a year after Bolland had joined.

There have been many calls for Bolland to go, with some groups growing increasingly vocal as time has progressed. The AGM has turned into an annual bun fight, with chairman Sir Robert Swannell brought in to deflect whatever is flung at Bolland.

This week Standard Life's head of equities also threw the boot in, pointing out in an interview with Radio 4's Today Programme how little has improved despite the £2.5bn ploughed into the business during his tenure. Trade journal Drapers has also weighed in, quoting commentators who describe Bolland as “skating on very thin ice”, and that “his days are numbered”.

But the below charts show why most M&S investors are still backing Bolland - so far.

M&S' share price is up – marginally – since he started. As you can see, that is pretty much in line with the FTSE 100 – and let's face it, fund managers get bonused for as much.

If that doesn't convince you, perhaps this second chart will. It shows how Tesco has fared against the FTSE 100 over the same period.

Comparing the share price with Tesco – both businesses being venerable institutions trying to get to grips with the challenges of online retailing and newcomer competitors – shows that relatively, M&S has come out on top. Bolland is bruised perhaps, but unlike Philip Clarke, he is not out.

That's not to say investors are happy with Bolland, or that he won't get his marching orders any time soon, and as many commentators have said, time is not on his side no matter how often he repeats the "step by step" approach of turning M&S around.

But it does help to explain why investors have not embarked on a full-on revolution. Yet.

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