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City awaits new M&S boss’ turnaround proposals

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The City will look for more details on how the new boss at Marks & Spencer plans to turn the retailer around, profits at airline Ryanair are expected to soar despite recent terror attacks, while top brass at Royal Dutch Shell will be wary of a rough ride over pay at the oil major’s AGM.

M&S’s new boss Steve Rowe will be looked to for further details on his turnaround plan for the retailer’s beleaguered clothing division when he reports full-year figures on Wednesday.

Mr Rowe – who took on the top job from Marc Bolland in April – pledged to restore the fortunes of its general merchandise arm after reporting a 2.7% slide in like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to March 26.

He branded the performance as ”unsatisfactory” and has said he would remain in charge of the clothing business because he was ”personally committed” to getting it right.

He has a task on his hands, however, given the dismal conditions for womenswear retailers in April, with Next recently warning over profits after last month’s cold weather.

It said the lacklustre figures could indicate a wider slowdown in consumer spending.

But despite the ongoing woes at the clothing division, M&S’s annual underlying pre-tax profits are expected to edge higher, up 1.8% to £673m.

This would mark the second full-year profits rise in a row after it halted a four-year run of falling earnings in the previous year.

M&S has been helped by robust performance from its food division, which held like-for-like sales flat against tough conditions in the grocery sector amid a supermarket price war.

The chain has also been making efforts to cut sourcing costs in the general merchandise business, which is helping push up profits.

But investors will be keen to hear more on Mr Rowe’s plans for the group following his move to cull a raft of senior executives earlier this month.

He announced he will almost halve the number of senior executives from 20 to just 11 as part of a management reshuffle.

The group has also recently scored another coup for its clothing business in the fight to revive flagging sales by sealing a tie-up in February with TV presenter Alexa Chung to launch a fashion collection inspired by the company’s extensive range.

Shore Capital analysts said they have faith in the new chief executive, saying: “M&S is in good hands, to our minds.”

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