Bolland to unveil crucial new autumn fashion range at M&S

Marion Dakers
MARC Bolland will tomorrow night unveil Marks & Spencer’s autumn and winter collection, a clothing range that investors hope will mark the turning point for the high street stalwart.

The chief executive is facing pressure from shareholders who are keen for signs that Bolland can end the decline in M&S’s general merchandise business, which has reported seven consecutive falls in quarterly revenue.

Bolland has stressed that the benefits of a new top team in the clothing arm will start to become apparent in the autumn range.

He has brought in John Dixon, the former boss of food, and Belinda Earl, the former boss of Debenhams and Jaeger, in an attempt to refresh the business.

But his plans suffered a setback when lingerie boss Janie Schaffer quit in April, just three months after being appointed.

“These new ranges need to be received in a more supportive manner by the British shopper albeit we are looking for a gradual progression rather than a radical change in apparel trading momentum,” said analysts at Shore Capital in a note last week.

M&S last week opened a 900,000 square foot distribution centre that will supply its online operations.

Next week Bolland will present M&S’s 2012-13 results, with analysts on average forecasting a seven per cent fall in pre-tax profit to £658m, according to a poll carried on the firm’s website, a second straight annual fall.

Last month M&S reported a seventh straight quarterly fall in underlying general merchandise sales.