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: "...in 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):