Marks & Spencers: the Downfall and Leadership Vacuum

Topics: Strategic management, Customer service, Management Pages: 16 (4663 words) Published: May 16, 2006
Marks & Spencer: The Downfall and Leadership Vacuum

Word Count: 2,996Strategic Management 1 : BSM 506


Executive Summary3
Section I – Past Glory4
Section II – Present Failure6
Section III – The Value Chain…Demolished8
Section IV – Back to the Future10
Appendix A – PESTLE Analysis12
Appendix B – Porters 5 Forces13
Appendix C – Value Chain14
Appendix D – Cost Drivers and Value Drivers15
Appendix E – Core Competences – M&S16
Appendix F – Critical Success Factors & Competitor Position Profile – M&S vs. H&M16 Appendix G – Ansoff Matrix17
Appendix H – Barriers to Change17

Executive Summary

M&S as an organisation has faced a number of challenges in its 124 year existence, but has successfully weathered each challenge as it presents itself with relative aplomb. The foundation upon which the whole business has rested since its inception in 1884 was "making life easy for [the] customer" (Bevan, pp13, 2001), which, in it's initial form, involved selling carefully chosen, good quality goods with low margins, and achieving volume sales (relatively speaking, at least) through Michael Marks' Penny Bazaars in the North West of England. This strategy was overwhelmingly successful, and continued to be the central tenet of M&S strategy for many years.

M&S sailed through the depression and several recessions, but at the end of the 1990's something went severely wrong. Profits were falling year on year and the footfall in the stores was lower than it had been for several years. This report sets out many of the reasons for that failure then concludes by suggesting and evaluating the strategic options open to the organisation going forward.

The report concludes that drawing on the substantial capital resources of M&S, brand and product development are the appropriate measures to take in order to put M&S back on the retail map.
Section I – Past Glory

M&S somewhat lost it's way towards the end of the 1980's, as the designer-dominated excesses of the decade resulted in M&S core product, women's clothing, being far too upmarket. As Sir Richard Greenbury took over as chairman of the company in 1991, according to Bevan "Customers let it be know that they did not expect to spend £100 on a dress in M&S" and a different direction was required.

A great deal happened during the early 1990's that reinforced M&S' ability to thrive and become one of the biggest retailers in the world. With the boom of the 80's giving way to the bust of the early 90's, Richard Greenbury's focus on high quality goods that represent excellent value for money enabled M&S to tap in to the attitude of the customer base and attract the value-hungry customers in their masses. Launching the "Outstanding Value" campaign in autumn 1992, Greenbury reduced the retail price of 25% of his goods, delivering a fall in price that robustly supported the company's image.

At the same time as the buyers at M&S were tasked with seeking out quality goods with simple, attractive styles, Greenbury was negotiating hard with the suppliers with whom he had forged a strong relationship during his year as COO and the two years as chief executive before that, urging them to make "a contribution" on the back of M&S' purchasing power. With the whole retail sector in decline, M&S suppliers were aware that, hard though it might be, achieving volume sales through M&S was their only option. Greenbury inspired confidence in his buyers, which allowed them to buy a selected number of styles in vast quantity, maximising the opportunity for discounts (ibid.). In addition, M&S was able to exploit the wide range of new, durable fabrics that were just emerging onto the market in the early 1990's, offering new and exciting products such as women's leggings that were soon to become an everyday, essential item.

It was not only in the area of clothing retail that M&S was able to attain substantial growth in the...

References: Ansoff, I. (1987) Corporate Strategy McGraw Hill, New York
Bevan, J. (2001) The Rise and Fall of Marks & Spencer. Profile
Books, London.
Dixon, S. Mador, M. and Matthews, R. (2005) Strategic Management I Kingston University, Kingston.
Handy, C. (1981), Understanding Organisations, Harmondsworth, Penguin.
Porter, M.E., (1980) "Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analysing Industries and Competitors", New York, Free Press.
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