Marks & Spencer's new chief executive Steve Rowe has admitted the company has been "frustrating" its customer with its failure to listen properly to what shoppers want – and pledged to do more to win hearts and minds.
Rowe unveiled the first parts of a major strategy designed to appeal to its lost customer as the high street giant today revealed statutory pre-tax profit had fallen by almost a fifth in the last year.
Rowe said the retailer had been listening to customers – who he has now dubbed "Mrs M&S" – and "not just telling them what we think they want to hear."
M&S customers were willing the brand to succeed, but he admitted: "We are frustrating them."
Speaking with City A.M, the retail boss added: “We’ve been surrounded by a lot of data in the business for a long time. But we have more insight than we had before – and that’s an important difference.”
Read more: Mrs M&S: Steve Rowe's first blunder?
"[Customers] want us to get the product, style and our fashion essentials right. They want us to get our pricing right, get our availability right and get our in-store experience right," he said. “We know what to do to make that happen, and therefore because we’ve got that level of insight, I’m confident that we can make a difference.”
One of Rowe's key strategic moves is to favour "accessible products [that customers] can wear with confidence" instead of catwalk trends; don't expect more lines from fashionistas such as Alexa Chung.
All flash sales had been removed from the calendar, but Rowe wants to drop prices in general, saying that there would be a more competitive price tags on 30 per cent of the range by the end of the year.
"We've cut back a little too far in some areas like store staffing," Rowe said.