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City sets wish list for Bolland at M&S

The City wants Marc Bolland to address an “over-complicated” and “confusing” clothing offer when he becomes chief executive of Marks & Spencer on Tuesday.

Bolland, who has been on gardening leave since leaving grocer Morrisons late last year, will need to differentiate the retailer’s sub-brands, said Arden Partners analyst Nick Bubb.

“When he arrives he needs to ask [M&S clothing boss] Kate Bostock what the difference is between the brands, and who buys what,” said Bubb. “At the moment it’s over-complicated and is trying to be all things to all women.”

Greg Lawless, analyst at Collins Stewart, said: “There are potentially too many clothing sub-brands, which potentially confuses the customer.

“Autograph has been dumbed down as the business has played a numbers game. When Autograph started there was dedicated floorspace with wooden flooring, giving a different look and feel. It also had dedicated staff and special lighting.

“All this has disappeared as the sub-brand has been extended across the product ranges, and in our view has been dumbed down as capital expenditure has been cut.”

Bolland should also assess the main areas of risk, and evaluate the major projects such as infrastructure, said Credit Suisse analyst Tony Shiret. But he argued it would be difficult for Bolland to implement change until executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose “buggers off”. Rose will step down in March 2011.

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