If you ever wanted proof that business success so often comes in cycles then look at the contrasting fortunes of two of the High Street’s favourite retailers – Next and Marks & Spencer.

Next has issued a bullish statement with a clear promise to “revitalise its branding and product range”, after yet another disappointing year for its stores.

The poor showing comes as the M&S brand continues to go from strength to strength, setting new benchmarks for itself and its principal competitors.

What will be even more worrying is that the downturn comes at a time when High Street sales overall were up by a healthy margin.

Yet it was only a relatively short time ago that both Next and M&S were in very different positions.

Next was once the darling of the High Street and the City, posting good profits and attracting ever-increasing customers to its stores as well as picking up a healthy amount of shoppers through the Next Directory.

At the same time, M&S was plunging into a downward spiral that many maintained it would struggle to emerge from in one piece. There was take-over talk and bold predictions that M&S could not escape the outdated and frumpy image that many held of the once thriving store and business.

Now it is M&S setting the trends once again and it is the likes of Next left trailing in its wake.

The retail merry-go-round is enough to make anyone dizzy. Little wonder then that the likes of M&S and Next occasionally lose their way.


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