Marc Bolland's M&S blueprint plans for online drive and overseas growth

Marks & Spencer's new boss Marc Bolland yesterday unveiled plans to sell more products online and reverse the move into other company's brands.

His three-year strategy backed by a 900 million investment package will also include expansion of the company's presence overseas.

However, the Dutchman gave no indication that his revamp would return M&S to the 1 billion profit the group achieved in the middle of predecessor Sir Stuart Rose's six-year stewardship.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I never make promises. It's not my style to make promises and later on not keep them," Bolland said, as he unveiled his long-awaited review after being poached earlier this year from Morrisons supermarket group on a 15m pay package.

The Dutchman said he was also reducing the number of non-M&S branded food lines to 100, while at the same time adding 100 international brands.

He said this was because 20 per cent of the brands, which include Colmans Mustard, Heinz Baked Beans and PG Tips, were earning 80 per cent of the sales. Bolland said the company was also to introduce a new corporate logo called Only at M&S, as it planned to regularly introduce new products to emphasise the "special" history of the brand.

Bolland said the extra spending, to be funded from cash flow, was meant to lift revenue from its current 9.3 billion to between 11.5bn and 12.5bn by 2014.

"We'll make the UK (business] more competitive but also lay the foundations to become in three to five years time an international multi-channel retailer," he said.

About two-thirds of the additional investment will be allocated to the clothing and food group's UK stores. A further 150m will go on the online business to try and double its revenues by 2013-14, a similar amount going on expanding overseas, with India and the Shanghai region of China the two top priority areas.

Bolland said M&S's previous international strategy was too "flag-planting", opening just two or three stores in some countries before moving on. He wanted M&S to focus on building up a strong presence in a foreign country rather than a "scattergun" approach to overseas expansion.

M&S currently has 337 stores in 41 territories ranging from the Irish Republic to the Czech Republic. Bolland said no new countries were ruled out for expansion, the group having exited the US (where it owned Brooks Brothers) and France in 2001.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bolland's blueprint for future growth at the British retail icon came as M&S revealed that it had boosted pre-tax profits by 42m to 348.6m on sales up 5.4 per cent at 4.57bn in the six months to 2 October.

The group raised its dividend 12.7 per cent to 6.2p, following UK like-for-like sales up 4.4 per cent.This included rises of 6.3 per cent in clothes and general merchandise, and 2.6 per cent in food.

However, Bolland said the group was cautious about the second trading half, citing rising commodity prices including cotton and the coming rise in VAT.