Esom out at M&S as sales slide

Steven Esom is out at M&S as the retailer posted results showing a fall in sales of both food and clothes.

The retailer's head of food has fallen victim to a management reshuffle, although chairman Sir Stuart Rose said the decision was "not a reflection on Steven but a recognition that the business is in a different place and needs a different set of skills".

Shares in M&S fell by more than 20% after it announced underlying UK sales dropped 5.3% in the past three months, with its food operation being particularly badly hit. Like-for-like food sales, for the 13 to 28 June fell by 4.5%.

Rose said: "Pressures on consumer spending and increased competitor pricing and promotional activity, coupled with changes in consumer buying patterns, have resulted in a significantly weaker performance.

"In order to meet these challenging market conditions, we need to increase the pace of change on a number of operating and trading initiatives"

Esom, who joined from Waitrose just over a year ago, will be replaced by John Dixon, currently the head of M&S Home and delivery business M&S Direct.

With growing economic concerns, industry watchers are now speculating over a potential move downmarket for the retailer's traditionally premium food offering.

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