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Jul 6, 2021
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"Emerging from a chrysalis": M&S promises surprises from reshaped business

Reuters API
Jul 6, 2021

British clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer is emerging from the Covid-19 crisis as a very different business that will surprise people with its financial performance, Chairman Archie Norman said on Tuesday.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

Norman and Chief Executive Steve Rowe believe the pandemic has masked progress the 137-year-old group has made in its latest attempt at a turnaround after decades of failures. They have focused on transforming the culture in M&S, improving the quality and value of its clothing and food products, while reshaping its store estate and investing in technology and e-commerce, including a venture with online supermarket Ocado.

"We sort of feel we're emerging from the pandemic and lockdown, like emerging from a chrysalis, a new and reshaped business," Norman told shareholders attending M&S's annual general meeting, held virtually for a second successive year. We think we're going to surprise a few people, not just hopefully with our financial performance but also with the things we do to demonstrate that M&S has really changed," he said.

Norman, chairman since 2017, said the management had moved on from fixing the basics in the business. "We're now into a new phase and we'd like to think that new phase is about growth," he said, adding this meant expanding sales and market share. "We're here to create a growing business, absolutely not in the business of managing decline, we're investing for the future." He also said the retailer was "very confident" about the year ahead.

In May, M&S reported an 88% slump in 2020-21 profit but forecast a rebound in 2021-22.

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