M&S had half-year results today, and the story felt almost exactly the same as it has for a decade. Ever since Stuart Rose left in 2011, and at times before that, it has been a business on the back foot.
The narrative goes something like this: the food arm is doing well, but we need to expand its appeal beyond lunchtimes and special occasions.
The clothes are a bit naff, a bit dowdy, but we’ve brought in some whizzy new design kings who are going to shake things up – just wait till you see our new range!
Present chief executive Steve Rowe and chairman Archie Norman are, of course, now engaged in a radical overhaul of the business. “Far reaching change – delivered at pace” said the statement. Uh huh.
From the outside it is very hard to see why all the things the company now says it is doing weren’t done years ago.
None of this is the fault of the PR people. But it is plainly a PR challenge to explain the company message when that message feels like one we’ve heard many times before.