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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 17:36 GMT
M&S pulls adverts from the Mail
Stuart Rose
The M&S chief has been trying to woo back customers
Marks & Spencer has stopped advertising in three titles owned by Associated Newspapers over what it perceives as negative coverage.

M&S declined to comment on the decision but the Daily Mail confirmed that the retailer had decided to take action.

M&S spends nearly 3m ($5.7m) a year on ads in the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and London's Evening Standard.

Chief executive Stuart Rose has been trying to transform M&S's fortunes in the face of falling profits.

M&S has faced a tough time in recent years amid competition from fashion rivals such as Next and rising sales of cheaper clothes at supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco.

The store reported a fall in sales over the crucial Christmas trading period, forecasting annual profits of between 600m-625m ($1.14bn-$1.19bn), against analyst expectations of about 675m.

Story complaint

In November, M&S made a complaint following an inaccurate Mail on Sunday report that said it was planning to sell up to half of its small-scale Simply Food convenience stores.

What a newspaper does editorially and what it does with its advertising budget should be two entirely different decisions
Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

"Financial Mail on Sunday acted in an entirely proper way. They wrote a story, it turned out to be incorrect and they corrected it the following week," the Daily Mail's financial editor Alex Brummer told the BBC.

"From that small incident...M&S made a decision somewhere that it wasn't an appropriate time to advertise in any Associated Newspaper titles."

"What a newspaper does editorially and what it does with its advertising budget should be two entirely different decisions."

Jim McDonald, commercial director at the Almond Partnership which buys advertising space, had more sympathy with M&S.

"What else can an advertiser do if it is receiving adverse editorial from a media owner other than withdraw the money it is giving to that media owner?" Mr McDonald said.

But he admitted that M&S was "naive" to think it could influence media editorial by withdrawing advertising revenue.

The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, which have a circulation of more than two million each, have traditionally been important to M&S.

Targeting customers

According to data from Nielsen Media Research (NMR), M&S spent 33.7m on advertising in the UK, excluding internet and direct marketing, between February 2004 and January 2005.

M&S spent 2.95m on advertising in the three Associated titles in that period, NMR found.

City analysts do not see the withdrawal as having too much impact on M&S's efforts to win back customers.

"It might make a difference to the Mail's revenues but it's only one part of Marks and Spencer's advertising budget," said Rhys Williams at Seymour Pierce.

"There are masses of other advertising outlets and ways of reaching its target customers."

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