Shares rise as City backs new M&S campaign

Kasmira Jefford
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SHARES in Marks & Spencer edged higher yesterday as the City backed the retailer’s new high profile autumn campaign, although some analysts warned that a failure to convert it into sales could deal a blow to chief executive Marc Bolland’s hopes of survival.

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said the campaign – featuring a host of British names including Dame Helen Mirren – is unlikely to prove “make or break” for the retail boss in the near term.

But he warned that its failure to deliver will “no doubt make this tougher in the New Year”.

“The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Frankly until the good ladies of the UK vote with their feet and their purse we won’t find out whether M&S is going forward or not,” he said.

Neil Saunders, managing director of retail analyst Conlumino, said the City is likely to give Bolland “the benefit of the doubt” when it reports its half-year results in November.

“However, if the results are soft after Christmas, that raises serious questions about the future of Bolland at M&S,” he warned.

The high street retailer’s new autumn winter collection arrived in stores and online last month. The full range will be launched together with the campaign at the beginning of September, however.

Marks & Spencer is pinning its hopes on the new collection to revive sales in it core clothing division, which have declined for eight consecutive quarters.

Bolland has pledged to improve the quality and tailoring of its clothes and reassert its positions as “a leading, premium fashion retailer.”

John Stevenson, retail analyst at Peel Hunt, said: “This is the first attack as it were in terms of the marketing. The important part is when we see all the ranges actually in stores.” He added: “Once autumn sets in that’s when we will start to see whether this has driven footfall into stores.”