There have been so many false dawns for Marks & Spencer over the years that it would be understandable if some observers remain sceptical, but its latest unscheduled update upgrading guidance is further evidence that something real is happening at the retailer.
The food side of the business has generally performed well over several years but the big transformation is in clothing. Like a dowdy middle-aged dad who gets made over to a sharp new look – Marks & Spencer has really upped its game.
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “The company has been steadily taking market share, helped by the failure and even collapse of some rivals over recent years.
“It may also be being supported by the fact its traditional demographic is likely doing rather better out of rising interest rates thanks to owning their homes outright and potentially having meaningful cash savings.
“However, it has also been master of its own destiny, tailoring its offering to appeal to younger shoppers with a big expansion into athleisure, for example.
“In the background Marks has made meaningful progress on operating costs which could provide an ongoing tailwind to margins for some time to come. Current CEO Stuart Machin and his immediate predecessor Steve Rowe deserve credit for succeeding where others singularly failed.”