Steve Rowe and Archie Norman have made strides with the Marks & Spencer turnaround plan this year, although there is still a long way to go.
The pair took the difficult but necessary decision to close more than 100 unprofitable stores over the next five years to rebalance the store estate to reflect the retailer’s desire to grow online sales to 30% of total sales.
Profit before tax and adjusting items was up 2% to £223.5m in the six months to 29 September.
Like-for-like sales of clothing and home dipped by 1.1% compared with the same period last year. However, an optimistic Rowe insists the division will return to growth next year.
Indeed, some progress has been made so far: during the half-year the prices of 1,000 clothing lines were reduced and M&S said customers were responding positively to the changes.
In womenswear, 19% of sales now come from the lowest-price “good” bracket, up from 7% last year.
The retailer said it wanted less complexity in its collections and more newness throughout the season. It will reassess its clothing sub-brands and reduce the number of styles for spring 19.
The building blocks are in place for a turnaround of its fortunes – the challenge now will be for Rowe and Norman to see it through.