Bottom Line: Bolland has got six months to ensure clothing measures up

Marion Dakers

EVERY cloud has a silver lining, and for Marc Bolland, the storm clouds battering Britain last week must have come as a huge relief. Finally, the weather is right for the coats and pullovers of his autumn range to start leaving the racks.

Sadly, the start of jumper season has come too late to boost M&S’s half-year sales, which are set to bring further disappointment tomorrow.

Coming just a week after rival retailer Next managed to beat forecasts in spite of a relatively balmy September, shareholders could be forgiven for being impatient about Bolland’s long-promised recovery in general merchandise.

But the real measure of the autumn collection will come in May, when the firm publishes its full-year results. Analysts expect to lower their forecasts this week, in spite of a strong showing in the food business, which makes up more than half of M&S revenues.

The full-year earnings will coincide with the end of Bolland’s three-year turnaround plan. Thundering shareholders are entitled to end his reign if clothing sales fail to measure up.

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