Marks and Spencer (M & S) is the retailer in United Kingdom, having around 760 stores worldwide, of which 520 stores are in United Kingdom and about 240 stores in other 34 countries including France and Canada, with 219 franchisees for international sales. They are into the clothing, food and home products. Marks and Spencer are the biggest British retailer of clothing and their food line alone is worth multi-billion pounds. Moreover, they had emerged as the first retailer in UK to have made over £1 billion pounds of pre-tax profit.
The company had started at Leeds as a single market stall by Michael Marks. In 1894, Thomas Spencer became a partner and the company was named Marks and Spencer. One of their initial shops in Grainger Market is still in operation and is the smallest of all Marks & Spencer stores. In 1975, they started their stores in Continental Europe and in 1979 in Ireland. Their various products include womenswear, menswear, food products and wine.
How Marks & Spencer Achieved Their Success:
They built their reputation not only by selling only goods made in Britain but also by always adhering to quality and giving customers, satisfactory value for their money. Marks and Spencer entered into relationships with British manufacturers for long term and started selling both food as well as clothing, using the brand name “St. Michael”. Besides, they had a policy of refunding full amount, on return of unwanted goods if receipt is produced, in spite of the time gap after purchase. All these factors contributed to their success. Marks & Spencer did not even bother to advertise in television till mid-nineties, as they were quiet confident of selling their goods on the basis of their reputation.
A decade after the death of Simon Marks, Marks and Spencer introduced Asian food in their stores. Eventually, the company switched over to suppliers from overseas for their various goods. In 1999, they started Online Shopping and the company which had been experiencing some financial slump revived, with the sales of new fashion clothing. They introduced the clothing range “Per Una” using the designs of George Davies. They redesigned their business model. The time gap for return of unwanted goods is 90 days now. Besides, they train their staff using the method by Mary Gober called “Our Service Style” to provide excellent customer service. They introduced self-checkout, enabling users themselves to scan, pack, then pay for purchased goods and staff is always there to provide any service. Furthermore, they also sell electronic goods in the Homes departments of some selected big stores.
Marks and Spencer sells Fairtrade tea and coffee in their stores along with Fairtrade cotton in some of their departments to highlight their environmental friendliness. They discontinued St. Michaels brand when they started the Marks & Spencer brand, which became “Your M & S brand”. Besides, they have completely redesigned their stores to have a contemporary, spacious and brighter appearance giving emphasis to environmental friendly products in construction. They have started in collaboration with Amazon, a new online/web store. Their revenue from Internet alone is about £100m.