Oct 26, 2010
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M&S's Rose says UK consumers can cope with cuts

Oct 26, 2010

(Reuters) - Stuart Rose, chairman of bellwether British retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS.L), said consumers can cope with government spending cuts and retail sales will grow next year, even though trading will be tough.


"I believe that consumers want clarity and what the Chancellor of the Exchequer did last week was give consumers absolute clarity about what to expect," Rose told reporters on the sidelines of the World Retail Congress when asked about last week's package of cuts to rein in British government borrowing.

"With clarity comes, I think, more confidence," he said.

Rose brushed off recent data showing a drop in British retail sales and consumer confidence, saying this was partly due to uncertainty over the government spending review and to less favourable weather for retailers than last year.

He said the key Christmas trading period would be "hard fought, but ... OK" and retail sales would grow next year, although trading conditions would not be easy.

"I think it will be exactly what we have seen -- the weak will get weaker and the strong will get stronger."

"It has been a reasonably good retail year. If it is as good next year as this year we will all be very, very happy," he said.

Unlike previous economic downturns, the world was being helped by the strength of emerging markets, Rose said.

"Ten or 15 years ago, if the world went into recession we all waited for America to start up again. That is not the case this time. We are in a much better place than we were 24 months ago. We are in a better place than we were 12 months ago. We are not out into clear blue water yet, but we will be, providing all these measures (such as the government spending cuts) take place," Rose said.

(Reporting by Mark Potter and Victoria Bryan; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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