An Investigation Into the Benefits of Improving Retailer-Manufacturer Relationships in Marks and Spencer in Order to Gain a Competitive Advantage.

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CHAPTER ONE:

INTRODUCTION

Chapter One: Introduction

Introduction

The first chapter introduces the reader into the topic area for this research and gives reasons for why this area was chosen as well as how it is relevant to the degree the author is reading.

1.1 Rationale

The area of research was chosen due to the author working in a factory in Morocco, manufacturing clothing solely for Marks and Spencer. The eight months spent in the factory were very insightful into retailer-manufacturer relationships as the author got an inside view from the manufacturers point of view. The author’s knowledge of Marks and Spencer’s well documented good relationships with their suppliers and manufacturers (Bevan, 2001) contradicted what was actually being observed whilst working in the factory, so therefore the author wanted to investigate into retailer-manufacturer relationships with a view on how to improve them.

2. Background

There is extensive research that has been done on Supply Chain Management (SCM) as well as retailer-supplier relationships. There has also been extensive research on the retailer Marks and Spencer:

“Marks and Spencer (M&S) is one of the world’s great retailers, enjoying legendary and iconic status, being often held up as one of the best managed and admired businesses in the world. Its ‘fall from grace’ has been spectacular and dramatic and the company is currently fighting for its life.”-(Jackson, P. et al. 2002)

There are also many dissertations and thesis’ written on the Supply Chain and Marks & Spencer, which were a very good starting point before doing primary research, to see what has already been done and what can be gained from further research, such as Yates’ and Beardmore’s dissertations. Marks and Spencer supplier relationships is a widely written about topic as it has always been seen to have best practise which other retailers strived to achieve.

3. Research Aims & Objectives

The key aim of this research is to see whether improving retailer-manufacturer relationships can gain competitive advantage in the supply chain by investigating the following objectives: ❑ Explanations of supply chain, supply chain management and global supply chain management ❑ Research into competitive advantage identifying benchmarks and current best practise. ❑ Investigating retailer-manufacturer relationships and then critically evaluating previous and current manufacturer relationships of Marks and Spencer. ❑ Identify relationship criteria that need improvement and analyse and assess to what extent improving relationships can benefit and contribute towards improving Marks and Spencer’s supply chain relationships.

Context

The increase in fast fashion and the demand for shorter lead times has made retailers such as Marks and Spencer re-evaluate their supply chains in order to meet these demands (Drapers, 2004). Marks and Spencer are now choosing to move away from long-term relationships with manufacturers in order to save on costs and stay competitive on the high street (Drapers, 2004). The research for this report is in order to establish whether Marks and Spencer can again achieve best practice with its suppliers even with the fact that it now on a global scale. Research will also aim at investigating how Marks and Spencer can work towards improving their supplier relationships in order to create and maintain a competitive advantage in the ever increasingly competitive market place.

1. Limitations

It is very important when conducting a research paper to acknowledge any limitations that may prevent the author from obtaining certain information: ❑ The first major limitation when researching for this dissertation is the time given to research and write this report. Due to the time limit only very specific information relating to the report could be considered and lots of relevant information may have been missed out due to...
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