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Norman, Richer, Leslau and Wray ought to look at Marks

The announcement that AIM-listed Manchester leather firm Knutsford has been the subject of a reverse takeover by a new private company called Maybeat ought to send shivers down the spine of undeperforming retailers. The newly-financed company is the creation of some of the biggest names in British business: Archie Norman of Asda, Julian Richer of Richer Sounds, and property magnates Nick Leslau and Nigel Wray. But one underperforming retailer desperately in need of a collection of consultants with this level of clout is Marks & Spencer.The irony is that the two groups should be sharing newspaper pages: Maybeat launches in a hail of positive PR; M&S announces its latest attempt to recover some of its former lustre. But imagine the consulting job the new boys could do on the old-timer.Wray and Leslau could give Marks some idea how to make the most of its massive and highly valuable property portfolio. Richer, whose chain has the highest per-square-foot sales of any retailer in the country, ought to advise of milking the existing sites. And Archie Norman – polymath business guru that he is – covers most of the rest. After all, Asda blossomed under his guiding hand, and Marks & Spencer shareholders might welcome a nicely-priced takeover from an organisation with the financial clout of Wal-Mart.Sadly, Maybeat only has around £5m to play with, and even it its current stricken state, Marks & Spencer is a little pricier than that.

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