M&S announced a five-year transformation plan last year aimed at restoring the basics and changing its culture towards a speedy, leaner and more digitally focused business. Rowe previously condemned the retailer for having cumbersome and bureaucratic structures, and a store estate which is not “fit for the future”. However, the overhaul has proved aching for the business. M&S was criticised to its second straight year of falling profits in May as it afflicted a huge bill for store closures.Pre-tax profits jumped from 62.1pc to £66.8mn for the year ending March 2018, hugely influenced by £321.1mn of costs linked to shutting underperforming shops.
M&S was tight-lipped on how AI might be applied, but chief executive Steve Rowe said it may prove a game changer for the UK retail industry. Microsoft is reportedly working on technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores in a challenge to Amazon’s automated shop. Rowe said that, “M&S is transforming into a digital first retailer, at a time when the sector is undergoing a customer-led revolution. “We want to be at the forefront of driving value into the customer experience using the power of technology. “The move is part of major reboot under Rowe designed to revive the company’s flagging fortunes. Marks & Spencer is changing to artificial intelligence to enhance its appeal to customers through a game-changing partnership with Microsoft. The retailer is working with AI experts at the US tech giant to explore how the technology could improve the shopping experience on the high street.