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Thursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK

Business: The Company File

M&S chiefs go in shake-up

Marks and Spencer: issued two profit warnings

A management shake-up at troubled retailer Marks & Spencer has claimed the jobs of two of its most senior directors.

Managing director Andrew Stone and executive director James Benfield will both take early retirement at the end of the year.

The positions will disappear as part of an overhaul of M&S's management structure designed to help turn around the fortunes of the store group, which has issued two profit warnings so far this year.

The company said its new board structure would result in "faster, more customer-focused decision making".

Profits down

Chief executive Peter Salsbury said: "We have come a long way in tranforming the business and placing the customer at the centre of everything we do, but there is still a lot do.

"This structure supports the key strategic steps ahead, such as the better procurement of merchandise, further development of the relationship with our customers, new selling channels and the cultural transormation of the business."

Earlier this week, the high street chain announced its profits for the last six months were down 7.8%.

It said that pre-tax profits for the half-year would be much worse than expected - at between £185m and £195m before exceptional costs.

In June, Marks & Spencer's chairman Sir Richard Greenbury stepped down a year earlier than expected.

M&S has seen sales slump in the face of stiff competition from retailers such as US group Gap which have taken much of its traditional market.

It has faced criticism that its clothes collections have failed to live up to expectations and that its store designs have failed to keep up with the new competition.

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