Marks & Spencer’s full year results did not evolve into the comeback tale many were expecting.
It managed to deliver its first profit increase in four years, however those all-important clothing and general merchandise like-for-like sales - where the retailer has been concentrating most of its efforts - fell 3.1%.
The news came as a blow; even chief exec Marc Bolland admitted it was not up to scratch. The retailer had expected better given its fourth quarter results broke the cycle of 14 consecutive quarters in decline.
Yet the M&S team seems to believe it has turned a corner. Those on the fashion and general merchandise side were brimming with confidence at the unveiling of the autumn 15 collection earlier this month. The collection looked very strong, with several eye-catching pieces for the fashion press to jump on the back of (a suede trench coat, an orange animal print coat and a structured wool jumpsuit in particular). But more than that, there appeared to be a step change in the self-assurance of the collection.
However, in order to get its magic and sparkle back, M&S must stay focused on its core 50+ consumer - and while some of the autumn 15 collection was ageless, the new Limited London capsule collection launched this week complete with cropped T-shirts and skinny denim dungarees is chasing after a younger shopper, who is simply not interested.
One successful quarter of growth does not a success make, so while the results indicate some progress there is still a long way to go.