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Investor fires warning shot at Marks and Spencer boss

One of the biggest investors in Marks and Spencer has warned that boss Marc Boland has until the autumn to sort the company out before investors lose patience.

One of the biggest investors in Marks and Spencer has warned that boss Marc Boland has until the autumn to sort the company out before investors lose patience.

The company recently reported that sales of general merchandise, which includes clothing, fell 3.8% fall in its last quarter.

David Cumming, head of UK Equities at Standard Life Investments, the group's 10th largest shareholder with 1.6% of its stock, said Bolland had between six and nine months to sort out clothing if he wanted to keep his job.

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He told the BBC's Today Programme M&S had made progress in areas like logistics but the key issue was general merchandise, in particular clothing.

'We're not comfortable with the progress here - they have made management changes but they are a bit late," Cumming said.

"[Boland] has to get his autumn range right, that's when the management changes that he's made will have an impact.

"I think the market will wait to see how that range, which doesn't really come through until six to nine months, is going to work. If that is poor then he'll be under a lot of pressure," he said.

Cummings said the market was willing to wait because the M&S' difficulties were already priced into its shares and the group could still be vulnerable to a bid from private equity.

"So us and the market will wait but he is under pressure," Cumming warned.

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