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Friday, 4 February, 2000, 17:30 GMT
M&S creates 1,000 jobs

Marks-men: Luc Vandevelde and Peter Salsbury


Marks & Spencer has announced the creation of 1,000 jobs in a plan to put 4,000 more staff on its sales floors.

The troubled stores group will be redeploying 3,000 staff from other areas to deal directly with customers.


New womenswear collection: High hopes
UK stores director Clara Freeman said: "By increasing the number of staff on the shop floor directly serving customers, we will be able to give a more personal and improved service."

The reorganisation will be brought in over the next year.

On Wednesday, M&S also said it was appointing a single, high-profile creative advertising agency to refresh its tarnished image.

Upheaval

The retailer has been hit over the past year by boardroom upheavals and falling sales and profits, and is regarded as a possible takeover target by some retail analysts.


M&S: alarming sales slide
Last month, the company appointed Luc Vandevelde - the Belgian former head of French supermarket chain Promodes - as chairman.

He is due to join on 28 February, joining chief executive Peter Salsbury at the helm.

In its Christmas trading statement last month, M&S said group sales fell by 5.3% on a like-for-like basis in the 15 weeks to 8 January, compared with the same period a year earlier.

But a new womenswear spring and summer collection was launched amid high hopes last month, as the company fights to win back its traditionally loyal customer base.

Mixed response

Analysts welcomed the commitment to better service but said the firm had to work on other areas to claw back lost ground.

"One of the areas that M&S needed to invest in was increasing staff levels in stores, so in that respect it is to be welcomed," said Emily Shamma, analyst at West LB Panmure in London.

Isabelle Payet, retail analyst at Sutherlands, said it would help reinforce the store's traditional reputation for a high standard of customer service.

"Having said that," she said, "they need to have the right products. You want people advising on things that people are going to buy.

"It's part of a bigger picture. It's part of a bigger programme to improve the products, the image, and getting people to come back to the store."

A spokesman for M&S said the new sales adviser roles meant jobs would be reordered so employees would focus on one area, whether it be working at the till or stocking merchandise.

He said: "It's not a case of stripping out roles, but changing what store employees do and how they do it."

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See also:
26 Jan 00 |  UK
Marks and Sparks fly
01 Nov 99 |  The Company File
M&S 'turning its back on Britain'
19 Dec 99 |  Business
M&S 'slump' fuels bid talk
14 Sep 99 |  The Company File
M&S sells US supermarkets

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