M&S suffers seasonal blues as Eurostar climbs

A tough Christmas trading environment drove Marks & Spencer to the bottom of this week’s Reputation Monitor.

Weak sales in the December trading period forced M&S to issue a profit warning, with one City analyst reportedly calling for chairman Paul Myners’s exit.

M&S, which is advised on financial PR by Tulchan Communications, could face a second takeover approach from Philip Green as early as next month.

Other retailers also suffered a Christmas hangover, with Woolworths and House of Fraser reporting a fall in underlying sales over the past few weeks.

The festive season was much kinder to privately held women’s clothes store New Look, which reported an 11.6 per cent rise in underlying sales and improved margins.

Fake fur and denim were among the clothes that secured the company fourth spot behind Tesco, Asda and Eurostar. Waitrose also made it into the top five, fuelled by a rise in sales of non-food items.

A 15 per cent increase in Eurostar passengers for 2004 secured the cross-channel operator its first top-five spot. It expects to make a profit in three years.

Reputation Monitor is compiled from Thomson Intermedia’s National News Index, a measure of media sentiment that excludes stock market reports and passing mentions.

Anthony Hilton, p11

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