Famous women to spearhead M&S fightback

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MARKS & Spencer has recruited some of Britain’s leading ladies to help stage a revival of its flagging fortunes.

The iconic retailer has cast prominent women including actress Helen Mirren, artist Tracey Emin and Leeds boxer Nicola Adams in a new campaign shot by acclaimed fashion photographer Annie Leibovitz to showcase the forthcoming autumn collections.

Marc Bolland, the chief executive, is fighting to reverse a decline in the general merchandise business which last month revealed an eighth consecutive quarterly fall in underlying sales.

He hopes that the campaign will reassert M&S’s quality and style credentials in a tough high street environment. The chain is being squeezed by Primark at one end at Zara at the other.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director of marketing and dusiness development at M&S, said the campaign will signal “a new and confident tone of voice” to introduce the autumn season in Ms Leibovitz’s “unmistakable, signature style, with its truly dramatic aesthetic”, which will help illustrate the retailer’s move into a new era.

The campaign launches early next month and features locations on the Thames, in a London artist’s studio and at a traditional country house.

Other models include author Monica Ali, ballerina Darcey Bussell, supermodel Karen Elson and burns survivor Katie Piper.

Steve Sharp, creative director, said the dozen models from diverse backgrounds and professions are pioneers.

“As industry leaders in their field, they make a significant difference that has seen them break boundaries, challenge stereotypes and create visionary artistic work. As the nation’s biggest retailer, we too have broken boundaries throughout our history and it’s this unique position in the marketplace that has enabled us to bring together this remarkable group of people.”

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