M&S Economic Study

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Economics: Assignment

Marks and Spencer's

Marks and Spencer's is a multinational chain of department stores, which sell a wide range women's, men's and children's clothing and footwear, gifts, home furnishings, beauty products, financial services and food, all exclusive to Marks and Spencer's. It is a successful company that has 375 stores in 29 countries worldwide and over 10million shoppers a week. As well as owning the US supermarket group "Kings Supermarkets" M&S website

The company has expanded both vertically and conglomerately. Looking at home ware, foods, flowers, (see appendix) cafés, gifts and cards. They have invested in many different styles of clothing ranges such as Per Una, Per Una Due and the Limited Collection. The conglomerate integration of the food market has proved to be very successful with the opening of independent "simply foods" branches and ‘lifestores, selling homeware.

M&S operates in an oligopolistic market structure with its main competitors being NEXT, House of Fraser, Gap and Alders. All of which have aimed their clothes at similar markets such as middle aged men and women and their children. This market has fairly high barriers to entry, as it is hard for new companies to enter and compete as these are well established firms with a dedicated customer base and strong supplier relationships. The larger firms such as M&S can take advantage of internal economies of scale. These would include bulk buying, managerial, and technical economies of scale. For M&S bulk buying would mean that they can use the size of their company and massive purchasing power to get huge discounts from their suppliers. Managerial economies of scale would mean that they can specialise their managers and as the output of the M&S rises the managerial cost per unit output will not rise at the same rate. The Technical economies of scale that M&S would take advantage of would be things such as large storage would mean lower cost of storage per unit. Risk bearing economies of scale would mean that they can spread the risk over different areas of the country or different countries. So if there is a change in demand in one area or there is a crash in the economy, they can depend on their other sections to hold the company up. They are large companies and new competitors would need large financing to set up and advertise in a highly competitive and already saturated retail market. If one firm decides to increase the price others will follow, by lowering their prices, this will enable them to keep hold of original customers and capture new market share of the old company. This would be the case of M&S if they were to kept here prices high they are likely to lose there customers to another more cheaper substitute. In this oligopolistic structure the best strategy would be to keep prices the same as they tend to be rigidly set due to the companies interdependence changes of the demand curve.

M&S have been retail giants for a long period and have gained sufficient competitive advantage and in 1998 M&S where the countries most profitable retailer valued at nearly 20 billion, (see appendix) Part of M&S success is due to their good reputation for producing quality goods both in food and clothing. M&S has a strong relationship with its suppliers and a strong "Brand Image" which has taken years to develop. M&S have had a consistent record of success and profitability until recently when they experienced falling sales. They were unprepared for this slump and while they were expanding the business their competitors were strengthening

The decrease in sales was probably due to the lack of innovation, (See appendix). M&S seemed to have ‘lost touch' with what consumers wanted and therefore they were going elsewhere. Some thought they had got too complacent as the market leader. M&S was losing out because the lack of clothing suitable for younger customers. Most of their clothes were aimed at the older generation;...
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