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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Struggling M&S launches new range
'per una' designer George Davies with two models
Can George Davies' design savvy save M&S?
UK retailer Marks & Spencer has launched a new womenswear range which it hopes will revive its fortunes.

Analysts are viewing the sales performance of the range as important for the future of chairman and chief executive Luc Vandevelde, who has promised to turn around the ailing chain by February 2002, or resign.

The new clothes have been designed by George Davies - the man who set up the Next clothing chain and developed the "George" range of clothes for Asda.


The range definitely has a younger and more fashionable feel

Sally Bain, Verdict Research
"It has certainly been a challenge for me, but one that I'm confident that I've risen to with a range of clothes that will appeal to all women," said Mr Davies.

The new line is called "per una" - which means "for one woman" in Italian - and will go on sale in 90 stores across the UK.

'Good collection'

The new range is aimed at shoppers in their 20s and early 30s, and has already won the approval of one retail analyst.

"On first look I think it is a good collection. The range definitely has a younger and more fashionable feel than the core, classic M&S range and it offers good value for money," said Sally Bain of retail consultants Verdict.

"This is an excellent step forward in appealing to a specific customer group and will be very important as part of the M&S recovery," she added.

The new line is seen as crucial to the company's plans to revive its sales.

Decline and fall

In 1998, Marks & Spencer was the country's most profitable retailer, but since then the company seems to have lost its way.

Its share price has tumbled from highs of more than 6 four years ago to about 2.50 as clothing sales and profits have slumped.

Mr Vandevelde, who was appointed in early 2000, gave himself two years to turn the company's fortunes round.

He has since said he didn't realise the full extent of M&S's troubles when he made this pledge.

Clothing sales have continued to fall and many analysts are doubtful that any substantial improvement will be apparent by early next year.

See also:

28 Sep 01 | Business
Shoppers rush for M&S's new look
28 Sep 01 | Business
Can 'one woman' save M&S?
28 Sep 01 | Business
The rise and fall of M&S
11 Jul 01 | Business
M&S clothes sales slump further
11 Jul 01 | Business
M&S: What the experts say
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