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Mark And Spencer Essay

2260 words - 10 pages

Marks & Spencer (A) Nardine Collier The M&S formula for success Michael Marks began his penny bazaars in the late 1880s. He soon decided he needed a partner to help run the growing firm and Tom Spencer, a cashier of Marks’ supplier, was recommended. From this partnership Marks & Spencer (M&S) steadily grew. Simon Marks took over the running of M&S from his father, turning the penny bazaars into stores, establishing a simple pricing policy and introducing the “St Michael” logo as a sign of quality. There was a feeling of camaraderie and a close-knit family atmosphere within the stores, with staff employed whom the managers believed would “fit in” and become part of that family. The staff were ...view middle of the document...

Its specialist buyers operated from a central buying office from which goods were allocated to the stores. The store managers followed central direction on merchandising, layout, store design and traning. Every M&S store was identical in the procedures it followed, leading to a consistency of image and a guarantee of M&S standards. However, it also meant store managers were severely restricted in how they could respond to the local needs of customers. During M&S’s growth there were few changes to its methods of operation or strategies. Its reputation for good-quality clothing was built on basics, the essentials which every

customer needed and would outlast the current fashion and trends seen in other high street retailers. As it did not have fitting rooms till the 1990s, all assistants carried tape measures and M&S would give a “no quibble” refund to any customer who was unhappy with the product he or she had purchased. As its products remained in the stores all year round for most of its history it never held sales. The success of M&S continued into the 1990s. Richard Greenbury, the CEO from 1991, explained this success:
We followed absolutely and totally the principles of the business with which I was embued....I ran the business with the aid of my colleagues based upon the very long standing, and proven ways of running it. (Radio 4, August 2000)

Successive chief executives were renowned for their attention to detail in terms of supplier control, merchandise and store layout; and it seemed to work. M&S’s success under Marks was often attributed to his understanding of customer preferences and trends. However, because of this, it could also mean that buyers tended to select merchandise which they knew chief executives would approve of. For example, since it was known Greenbury did not want M&S to be at the cutting edge of fashion, buyers concentrated on the types of product they knew he would like-“classic, wearable fashions”. There were other problems of centralised authority. On one occasion Greenbury had decided that to control costs there would be less full-time sales assistants. Although this led to an inability in stores to meet the service levels required by M&S, when Greenbury visited, all available employees were brought in so that it appeared the stores were giving levels of service that, at other times, they were not. It also meant there was little disagreement with directives from the top, so policies and decisions remained unchallenged even when executives or store managers were concerned about negative effects. Customer satisfaction surveys that showed decreasing satisfaction throughout the late 1990s were kept from Greenbury by senior executives who felt he might be annoyed by the results.

A hitch in the formula M&S’s problems began to hit the headlines in October 1998 when it halted its expansion programme in Europe and America and in November announced a 23 per cent decline in first-half profits, causing its...

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