My view is that you need to undertake a radical rethink and over haul of your womenswear offerings. I have struggled over the last few years to attire one single female client in anything other than your pants - waist clinchers and tummy tuck ones to be precise, oh and some great claret tights last season. BTW we are talking 40+ peeps here, I'm taking my 50+ lot to Kew and elsewhere to reconnect them with style, they all felt tired and dull.
With what do I find fault, I'm not going to list it all but here is a selection:-
1. Overstocking on the shop floor, this is with regards to the rails, the multitude of them on the floor and the fact you can't see things. Yesterday with one item, product code T572433A - a Perfect Military Pocket Knee length skirt with belt to be precise, I had to struggle with a multitude of skirts all hung on one rail intended for 15 to swish nicely at best. There were about twenty size 10s in amongst a few other sizes. This is unnecessary and immediately puts the customer or stylist in a sweat as they grapple to stop the items falling on the floor, as you bump behind into the adjoining equally overstocked rail and then stick your right and left elbow into the others.
Please go for a stroll around Selfridges 2nd floor, enjoy the stroll, the ability to view items and browse. Note how items are hung and think about how you could achieve the same.
2. Bring back the square jumper/tshirt things - even Primark has these and yes they do get untidy but you don't have to overfill them and restocking and keeping things tidy would reconnect the sales assistants with the customer and save them pulling rails around in a random fashion. I'm not advocating old style but a new interpretations of an old classic presentation retail style.
3. Less is more - please scale down Limited Collection, Autograph and Per Una (actually I'd love you to get rid of Per Una but that will happen naturally), in fact scale down everything. There is too much volume. Have better processes that improve production on lines selling well and an ability to deliver what the customers want, think Topshop. Topshop deliver a line of basics that only vary occasionally, in colour or a minor style tweak. Then they add the rest. You do basics too but they are not quite right, not clearly defined except on the knickers front. don't just go to Topshop, go to Zara too. Look at their cardigans and jumpers folded on the shelves. Do this for UK women and get a template that is trendy but for the over 35 year body - it'll be a winner.
4. Do a line that are style classics, do not mess with these, get the cut, cloth and colour right and exploit this gap in the market. Get the body standard deviation right too based on post twenty something (see above). I know that you might think that your new Perfect offering is doing this but. The above mentioned product is quite nice but you are delivering an old school Next offering mainly in polyester and it isn't going to be a winner - but you can come back to me and tell me I'm wrong with your amazing sales results.
5. I give you a favourite dress of mine. It is simple, well made and has lovely beading detail. It wasn't expensive and not many were made. It isn't an amazing design but it works as a dignified understated LBD when the moment requires one. It is an Autograph New York number - and I bought it because the Autograph section was attended to by a lovely lady who knew her stock, customers and loved her job. In the last 5 years all I have bought from M&S apart from food occassionally are some pants, a pair of ballet pumps on sale and some pirate socks for my 3 year old - and goodness you are actually delivering some clothes for children I can buy again, great Spiderman pants!
Here is my lovely dress. Please ask me to come in to be a consultant for a 6 month period - I will make you millions and save you during the hard times - failing hiring me get some A list designers in again and ditch the F listers you seem to think will make do, well they won't.