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M&S chairman admits to shopkeeping mistakes

SHANGHAI, February 10 – Marks and Spencer Chairman Stuart Rose admitted the British retailer had made several "basic shopkeeping" mistakes in launching its first mainland China store, in an interview published Tuesday.

Rose told The Financial Times he was in Shanghai to put some urgency into efforts to solve the problems at the store, which has been dogged by poorly stocked shelves and a lack of smaller sizes since it opened in October.

"We need to get the A-to-Z of sizing right and we need better market research," Rose was quoted as saying. "That\’s what I call basic shopkeeping."

The food section was thinly stocked due to supply chain problems, according to the report, adding that the company said food stocks were now at 90 percent.

"We had a screw-up," Rose said of the supply problems.

The retailer\’s China managing director, Richard Sweet, left the company last month, but Marks and Spencer insisted his departure had nothing to do with the Shanghai store\’s difficulties, the Hong Kong-based China Retail News reported.

Sweet\’s departure was part of planned worldwide staff cuts, in which up to 1,200 employees were expected to lose their jobs, the trade magazine said last month.

The company has appointed Mark Burton as the new head of China retail, Rose said.

More Chinese stores were planned, eventually, Rose said, adding the firm seeks to increase its international business to 15-20 percent of group revenues, up from the current 10 percent.

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"We will not rush to conquer China… until we conquer the basics of shopkeeping" in China, he was quoted as saying.

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