Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Isn't Just a Decline ... It's a Marks & Spencer Decline

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Isn't Just a Decline ... It's a Marks & Spencer Decline

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon English

THE store front is fading and a little grotty. The shop sign seems left over from the Fifties, baring little resemblance to th e designer logo that appears in the adverts and in the branches in sexier parts of town.

At the entrance, a distressed woman seems confused. She has been sick on herself and, judging by her words, is waiting for someone called Daryll to come to her rescue.

This is not just M&S. This is the Holloway Road M&S. Marks & Spencer isn't responsible for the difficulties facing vomit-woman.But it doesn't get that much better inside. The pile of clothes that first greets you does not quite resemble a jumble sale, but that's only because the gear is too expensive.

The food hall is OK, but not inspiring. In general, there is a slightly dishevelled feel about the place -- like Sports Direct with sandwiches. Twiggy doesn't seem to be in today.

M&S might argue that the less-thanglamorous appearance of the store is a function of the area, but N7 isn't really so bad. The Morrisons up the road is only unappealing because it is so busy. The Waitrose just down the road is, well, Waitrose. Other retailers in the near vicinity include Argos, Selbys, Boots, Vodafone and J D Wetherspoon. All look like better places to spend money than my M&S. The fashion houses either side of the store, New Look and MK One, sell livelier clothes that are no more likely to disintegrate. (In my experience, Marks & Spencer shirts, including the one I am wearing, fall apart with regularity). At checkout, there is a long queue and only one person on the tills. The crowd tolerates this for a while, until someone snaps and asks why there aren't more people working. "Cutbacks," says the woman, doing her best.

When the scanner starts ringing up prices that don't tally with the Special Offer signs, the customers lose patience. A manager arrives to help, but can't really. He is about 12 years old.

Sir Stuart Rose's five-year tenure at the helm of M&S is nearly at an end -- he gave his farewell sales presentation last week (revenue supposedly up 4. …

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