Marks & Spencer executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose warned retailers not to panic and abandon their core brand values in the recession.
Speaking at the Retail Week conference in London yesterday, Rose said that one of the keys to surviving the downturn was to hold market share, although he added that he did not know when the recession would end.
Rose said: “Stick to your core values, and keep innovating. You can cut costs but make sure you don’t cut an artery. We have to offer value, we have to show our shoppers that we recognise their problems and give them more deals. Customers are very canny and can see value for money. There may be merchandise in the store that’s working really well we just need to improve the hit rate. We also need to keep innovation. Less innovation means fewer sales.”
Rose said that he thought the fall in consumer consumer confidence had bottomed out, however he said that he could not predict when a recovery would happen.
“I remember recessions from the 70s, 80s and 90s but two things are different with this one, the speed and the global aspect,” said Rose. “Because it’s happened so quickly you could say that maybe we’ll come out of it more quickly. The answer is that noone really knows.
He added: “There isn’t a return of confidence but a plateauing of the lack of confidence. We just have to wait and see.”
Rose said that Marks & Spencer’s commitment to its ethical trading programme Plan A was more important than ever and would not lose its importance in the economic downturn.
Rose added that he had three objectives he wanted to be remembered for: “I want to create a clear passage through the recession, a clear plan beyond the recession and a smooth transition to new leadership.”