New M&S CEO rises to the occasion, says Christopher Wigdor

BBC Radio 4 Today programme


Interview analysis by Christopher Wigdor (his comments in red)

Steve Rowe, the new CEO at Marks & Spencer, gave a robust account of himself and his business when interviewed by the BBC's Nick Robinson on the Today programme yesterday.  The topic was M&S's plans to cut the number of its traditional full-service stores here in the UK, while increasing its complement of "Simply Food" outlets.    Robinson's  interviews are direct (as one would expect from Today) and they usually include a good helping of cutting humour.  His opening gambit was along the lines of "As a former Saturday boy at M&S stores, are you the guy who is brave enough to change M&S from a bras and knickers store to one that sells moussaka and sticky toffee pudding?".

Rowe's reply was courteous and objective and ended with the comment ".....we are rebalancing our footprint" Comment: this is jargon -  your average underwear purchaser won't know what  is meant by "footprint" in this context.  

Robinson went on to ask: "People will be worried that their local M&S will close.  What can you tell them?".  Rowe replied: "....this is a complex time transition.  We need to be sure that we have a modern relevant estate".   Comment: again jargon -  what on earth does "complex time transition" and "modern relevant estate" mean to the typical high street shopper?  Avoid gobbledigook.

Robinson ended the interview in brutal manner: "You are a fan of Millwall football club, whose slogan is "Nobody likes us an' we don't care".  Not perhaps the ideal slogan for M&S.  What would you prefer us to think of you as?"  Rowe's answer was polite and completely objective: " M&S terms, lots of people like us .... in fact they love us........ everybody likes us, and we could do better".

See what you think of the interview -  1 hour 9 minutes into the programme (BBC Radio 4 Today, Tuesday 8 November, 2016):

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