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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 12:29 GMT
Court blow for M&S supplier
M&S shop in Manchester
The Court of Appeal agreed with M&S's argument
The Court of Appeal has ruled that a claim for losses and damages against Marks & Spencer by one of its suppliers will not be allowed to go to trial.

UK textile company William Baird had launched legal action against M&S after the retail giant ended a 30-year relationship without giving what the supplier saw as "reasonable notice".

In a statement, Baird chief executive David Suddens said the company was "very disappointed" by the ruling and would give immediate consideration to an appeal to the House of Lords.

Baird had claimed for substantial losses and damages, saying it had invested more than 30m in its business to continue supplying M&S - money that would not now be recouped.

After M&S terminated the supply deal in October 1999, Glasgow-based Baird laid off 4,000 workers.

Baird shares fall

The company's case, which included a 54m compensation claim for breach of contract, had in June 2000 been dismissed by the High Court.

In the City, Baird shares were down 5.5 pence to 45.5p following the ruling.

The shares had traded in a range of 44.5-75.5p in 2000.

Baird reported a pre-tax loss of 93.5m in 1999 - the last year for which full-year figures are available - having made a profit in each of the two preceding years.

M&S shares were marginally higher, rising 1.25p to 239.5p.

The retailer is itself experiencing troubling times, with sales proving disappointing.

Industry insiders have said the chain has been losing customers because it is neither cheap enough to compete with discounters or trendy enough to attract more fashion-conscious shoppers.

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See also:

16 Jan 01 | Business
M&S fights compensation claim
14 Dec 00 | Business
Rover bidder buys M&S supplier
30 Nov 00 | Business
Baird sells menswear division
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