After years of difficulties, popular British retailer Marks & Spencer is finally seeing a positive return on its efforts to revive its once sterling reputation, with higher than expected sales and profits driving up its share price 80 per cent since the start of the year.
M&S, as the brand is often known, lost its place in the list of the UK’s largest listed companies, the FTSE 100 index, in 2019. It had been a part of the esteemed index since it was set up in 1984.
Earlier in August, the iconic brand posted an 11 per cent jump in food sales, and, importantly, a six per cent increase in sales in its clothing and home division. The update follow other positive signals in recent months, and sent its shares soaring, with the company now worth around £4.3 billion (€5 billion) – bringing it on the cusp of rejoining the FTSE 100.
The rebound in its popularity as a go-to destination for fashion is the fruit of a long-running effort that has seen Jill Stanton and Maddy Evans, former and current womenswear directors respectively, overhaul the company’s clothes range.
The controversial decision by marker competitor John Lewis to cut the beloved floral maxi dress from its range may have helped, driving Marks & Spencer’s own range of the same clothing item, priced at £40 (€46.55), to best-seller status.
More broadly, M&S has reduced the number of stores, cut over 9,000 jobs, culled some of its many in-house brands, and moved away from a dependence on sales that was harming its image.
At the same time, it has finally launched an effective online retail option, after years of misses in that sector.
Former CEO of the company between 2016 and 2022, Steve Rowe, is credited for overseeing the turnaround. He had a long career with M&S, having started working at the retailer aged just 15.
It is his successors, Stuart Machin and Katie Bickerstaffe, leading the company as CEO and co-CEO respectively, who are overseeing the continuation of that legacy.
Marks & Spencer has been present in Malta since 1962, and currently has seven locations across Malta and Gozo.
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