M&S no longer looks good in women's clothes

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UK non-food sales are down almost 7% and the biggest problems are in clothing.
UK non-food sales are down almost 7% and the biggest problems are in clothing. Photo: Reuters

Today M&S, seen as a barometer of the retail sector, reported some disappointing financial results.

UK non-food sales are down almost 7% and the biggest problems are in clothing. The chain is largely blaming the bad weather, which stopped sales of casual spring and summer outfits.

There is evidence that the problems run far deeper.

M&S has also announced a big reshuffle with an injection of new retail talent into it's most senior ranks.

The most revealing and significant appointment is 'style director' Belinda Earl. This role has not existed at the store before. It seems to indicate that M&S is looking to learn from it's key rivals.

Belinda Earls has previously worked at up-Market Jaeger and Aquascutum....but also at Debenhams. It looks an inspired appointment but also may be seen to confirm an underlying problem.

When Marc Bolland took over at the top of the store some critics said he was not 'a rag trade man'. The M&S boss had a great background in supermarkets and larger....but little by way of clothing. Today's news is a clear attempt to plug that gap.