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May 21, 2018
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M&S adds new directors, more stores to shut as possible FTSE 100 demotion looms

May 21, 2018

Under-pressure retail giant M&S announced on Monday that it has beefed up its board with two new non-executive directors offering the kind of retail and business experience it needs.

M&S sales are continuing to fall, according to reports

Katie Bickerstaffe (the outgoing boss of Dixons Carphone’s UK business) and Pip McCrostie have joined. Bickerstaffe has “extensive experience of retail transformation,” M&S said. 

Meanwhile McCrostie “brings extensive experience of finance and transactions from a career at Ernst & Young where she transformed and led the Global Corporate Finance business.”

The announcements came after news also broke that further store closures could be on the cards for the company. It's believed that the retailer, which reports its latest results this week, will accelerate its store closure programme as its sales continue to fall. 

Sources told the Sunday Times the number of ‘full line’ (i.e. those selling both general merchandise and food) store closures will rise to 100 from the 60 originally planned. 

They also said that CEO Steve Rowe has been encouraged by results so far where store closures haven't seen sales in those areas plunging. Instead, shoppers have switched to other M&S stores nearby. 

Analysts expect the company to report like-for-like fashion sales down 1.1% on Wednesday and there were also suggestions that M&S could lose its coveted place in the key stock market index, the FTSE 100, for the first time since that index was founded over 30 years ago.

Its share price has fallen sharply in the past year and while relegation to the FTSE 250 may not seem like a big deal, it would be a significant move for the company’s share price and hence its market capitalisation. 

Many investors buy FTSE 100 trackers, while the biggest investors such as pension funds largely only buy blue-chip FTSE 100 shares. Not being part of that index means that if some investors were no longer to hold or buy the company’s shares, that could have a depressant effect on the firm’s market capitalisation.

As of Friday it was ranked at number 102 by value in the FTSE 350. If its results on Wednesday send its share price down further and it falls below Number 110, it would automatically be demoted at the next quarterly reshuffle at the end of this month. And of course, if any firms currently near the top of the FTSE 250 see their market capitalisations rising in the next few days, that would also have an impact as they could overtake M&S.

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