New research shows that shoppers don’t want to see Marks & Spencer to fail with 81 per cent saying they want it to remain on the UK’s high streets.
This rises to 83 per cent among women, and it seems this positive sentiment towards the UK’s most iconic high street brand is felt across all ages - 87 per cent of those aged 55+ want M&S to stick around as do 74 per cent of those aged 18-24.
In the survey by retail marketing specialist Live & Breathe, consumers were also asked which product lines Mark & Spencer should focus on improving - 57 per cent chose its clothing, rising to 65 per cent among women.
The study of 1,000 UK consumers was commissioned by Live & Breathe to coincide with the publication of Marks & Spencer’s first financial results since the appointment of Steve Rowe as CEO.
The survey also asked shoppers what they thought of the ‘Mrs M&S’ persona that Rowe recently used to describe his customer base. Although he was slated in the press and on social media for ‘typecasting’ his shoppers, the research actually found that almost half (44 per cent) don’t object to being typecast in this way and 22 per cent don’t feel that his remarks were typecasting at all.
Speaking on the results of the survey, Nick Gray, MD of Live & Breathe, said: “Steve Rowe was handed a poisoned chalice, particularly regarding M&S clothing, which is seriously in need of a new format. Shopper expectations are different now; they want high volume, reasonable price and fast fashion – brands like Zara.
“Mr Rowe needs to step back and focus on the basics. M&S is too broad at present and trying to be all things to all people. He needs to change industry commentators’ opinions and disseminate down from there."
Gray went on to say that M&S needs to show that it’s in it for the long haul by going through the rocky years and using these to re-establish as a stronger player, much as Levi’s did.
"The high street is still facing casualties and as we’ve learnt in the past, nostalgia isn’t enough. The nation clearly wants M&S to survive but it won’t if it doesn’t drastically rethink its approach – especially when it comes to clothing.”
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