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  Robin Knight, partner at advisory and restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper, comments on Marks & Spencer’s Q4 trading update.

“Whilst today’s results are perhaps more encouraging than some expected there is still a long way to go as Marc Bolland enters the final straight of his three year plan. Amongst other things M&S; needs to follow through with its pledge to increase the style and quality of its clothes and win back market share from its rivals via an enhanced store and online offering. With a new director of style and head of merchandise allied to increased investment in a redesign of its stores, technology and ecommerce platforms there is no doubt the intention is there to effect change across the business. The two big questions which remain unanswered though are: would this be achieved more quickly and effectively out with the scrutiny of the public markets and, what exactly does the new M&S; look like?”

Food sales “Food sales are the white knight for M&S;, painting a much brighter picture than its clothing sales. With food becoming an increasing focus for the whole business, and an international expansion of its food division on the cards, the grocery department is certainly out-performing its rivals.”

Clothing Sales “M&S;’s clothing sales continue to disappoint. The retailer is increasingly under pressure to revamp the quality and style of its clothes and it is clear that M&S; needs to develop the brand to reconnect with its diverse and highly fragmented target audience.”

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