The same old story at misfiring M&S

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By Joel Hills, ITV News Business Editor

M & S boss Marc Bolland has acknowledged the company has not performed well enough in recent years. Credit: Reuters

I've written about the Marc Bolland's misfiring revolution at Marks and Spencer before.

Three months on and in many ways it's same old story: food sales good, non-food sales bad.

The company's shareprice (relative to the FTSE ALL-SHARE index) is back where it started when Marc Bolland took over as chief executive.

Shareholders aren't happy but today 96% of them voted to re-elect him. His three year turnaround plan is now four years old but he still has time.

Bolland acknowledges performance has not been good enough. He has forgone a pay rise for the last four years, this year he won't get a bonus, in fact no one at the company will.

Bolland is always scrupulously polite about his predecessor Sir Stuart Rose but he is clearly of the view that the business he inherited had been painfully neglected.

In the last few years Bolland has spent £2.3 billion revamping stores, improving the style and quality of M&S clothing, upgrading IT systems and the distribution network and expanding overseas.

£9.7 billion went through the M&S tills in 2010/11 - the year Marc Bolland joined.

£10.3 billion was taken in 2013/14. That's a pretty miserable return on that investment.

"The heavy lifting is coming to an end" promised the M&S chairman, Robert Swannell. Yet another plea for patience.

The latest hiccup is the new website. Previously run by Amazon it's been brought in-house and given an imaginative make-over.

Perfectly sensible but since its launch in February online sales have slumped as customers struggled to register and find their way around.

"Teething problems" says the company. That may be true but it all feels a little self-inflicted.