Consulting » Norman, Richer, Leslau and Wray ought to look at Marks

Norman, Richer, Leslau and Wray ought to look at Marks

Some of Britain's leading property and retail gurus are looking for underperforming retailers. One of the country's biggest brands seems ripe for their attention.

The announcement that AIM-listed Manchester leather firm Knutsford has been the subject of a reverse takeover by a new private company called Maybeat ought to send shivers down the spine of undeperforming retailers. The newly-financed company is the creation of some of the biggest names in British business: Archie Norman of Asda, Julian Richer of Richer Sounds, and property magnates Nick Leslau and Nigel Wray. But one underperforming retailer desperately in need of a collection of consultants with this level of clout is Marks & Spencer.The irony is that the two groups should be sharing newspaper pages: Maybeat launches in a hail of positive PR; M&S announces its latest attempt to recover some of its former lustre. But imagine the consulting job the new boys could do on the old-timer.Wray and Leslau could give Marks some idea how to make the most of its massive and highly valuable property portfolio. Richer, whose chain has the highest per-square-foot sales of any retailer in the country, ought to advise of milking the existing sites. And Archie Norman – polymath business guru that he is – covers most of the rest. After all, Asda blossomed under his guiding hand, and Marks & Spencer shareholders might welcome a nicely-priced takeover from an organisation with the financial clout of Wal-Mart.Sadly, Maybeat only has around £5m to play with, and even it its current stricken state, Marks & Spencer is a little pricier than that.

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