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Marks & Spencer Bets on Aviator Coats, Leggings to Boost Appeal

Marks & Spencer Group Plc today paraded fall/winter ranges featuring 169-pound ($251) leather leggings and 85-pound aviator jackets, providing clothing director Kate Bostock’s first test under new chief Marc Bolland.

The fashion lines, which are based on themes including minimal, nomad and military, were shown to journalists at the retailer’s store in London’s Marble Arch district. They will start to go on sale in Marks & Spencer stores from August.

Bostock is among directors whose performance may come under scrutiny from Bolland, who joined Marks as chief executive officer this month. The CEO will need to make early decisions on whether to back the retailer’s senior managers, according to Shore Capital analyst Kate Calvert. Finance Director Ian Dyson resigned last week to become CEO of Punch Taverns Plc.

“There could be pressure on Bostock in the coming months,” said Paul Mumford at Cavendish Asset Management, who helps manage about $1 billion, including Marks shares. “There has been a need to refocus the clothing and hopefully it’s fairly positive the way things have been looking.”

Bostock, 53, joined Marks in 2004, after introducing the George brand globally as product director at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Asda supermarket chain. Marks declined to make her available for an interview today.

“The issue is does Bolland think she’s the right thing?” said Calvert. “There is a certain amount of fashionability coming in, but it’s still hard to tell the difference between the segments and it’s not bringing in younger customers, which they need.” Calvert has a “sell” recommendation on the stock.

The new clothing ranges reflect “a move toward a more sophisticated, muted, colour palette, giving the key trends a chic modernity,” Bostock said in a statement today.

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