Marks & Spencer

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Marks & Spencer
TypePublic limited company
Traded asLSEMKS
FoundedLeeds, West Yorkshire,
England (1884 (1884))
FoundersSir Michael Marks
Thomas Spencer
Area servedWorldwide
Key peopleRobert Swannell (Chairman)
Marc Bolland (CEO)
Revenue£10.03 billion (2014)[1]
Operating income£756.0 million (2013)[1]
Profit£458.0 million (2013)[1]
Employees85,813 (2014)[2]
  (Redirected from Simply Food)
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"M&S" redirects here. This article is about the department store. For other uses, see M&S (disambiguation).
Marks & Spencer
TypePublic limited company
Traded asLSEMKS
FoundedLeeds, West Yorkshire,
England (1884 (1884))
FoundersSir Michael Marks
Thomas Spencer
Area servedWorldwide
Key peopleRobert Swannell (Chairman)
Marc Bolland (CEO)
Revenue£10.03 billion (2014)[1]
Operating income£756.0 million (2013)[1]
Profit£458.0 million (2013)[1]
Employees85,813 (2014)[2]

Marks and Spencer plc (also known as M&S; colloquially known as Marks and Sparks, Marks's or, simply, Marks) is a major British multinational retailer headquartered in the City of Westminster, London. It specialises in the selling of clothing, home products and luxury food products. M&S was founded in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer in Leeds.

In 1998, the company became the first British retailer to make a pre-tax profit of over £1 billion,[3] although subsequently it went into a sudden slump, which took the company, its shareholders, who included hundreds of thousands of small investors, and nearly all retail analysts and business journalists, by surprise. In November 2009, it was announced that Marc Bolland, formerly of Morrisons,[4] would take over as chief executive from executive chairman Stuart Rose in early 2010; Rose remained in the role of non-executive chairman until he was replaced by Robert Swannell in January 2011.[5][6]

It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


Marks and Spencer on Briggate not far from their original branch in Leeds.

The company was founded by a partnership between Michael Marks, a Belarusian Jew[7][8][9] from Slonim (Marks was born into a Polish-Jewish family, a Polish refugee living in the Russian Empire (now in Belarus)), and Thomas Spencer, a cashier from Yorkshire.[10] On his arrival in England, Marks worked for a company in Leeds, called Barran, which employed refugees (see Sir John Barran, 1st Baronet). In 1884 he met Isaac Jowitt Dewhirst while looking for work. Dewhirst lent Marks £5 which he used to establish his Penny Bazaar on Kirkgate Market, in Leeds.[10] Dewhirst also taught him a little English. Dewhirst's cashier was Tom Spencer, an excellent bookkeeper, whose lively and intelligent second wife, Agnes, helped improve Marks' English. In 1894, when Marks acquired a permanent stall in Leeds' covered market, he invited Spencer to become his partner.

In 1901 Marks moved to the Birkenhead open market where he amalgamated with Spencer. The pair were allocated stall numbers 11 & 12 in the centre aisle in 1903, and there they opened the famous Penny Bazaar. The company left Birkenhead Market on 24 February 1923.[11]

The next few years saw Michael Marks and Tom Spencer open market stalls in many locations around the North West of England and move the original Leeds Penny Bazaar to 20, Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester.[10][12]

Marks and Spencer, known colloquially as "Marks and Sparks",[13] or "M&S", made its reputation in the early 20th century with a policy of only selling British-made goods (it started to back down from this policy in 1990s[14]). It entered into long term relationships with British manufacturers, and sold clothes and food under the "St Michael" brand, that was introduced 1928. The brand honours Michael Marks. It also accepted the return of unwanted items, giving a full cash refund if the receipt was shown, no matter how long ago the product was purchased, which was unusual for the time.[9] It adopted a 90-day returns policy in 2005 and on 12 April 2009 the refund policy changed once again to 35 days.

M&S staff raised £5,000 to pay for a Spitfire fighter called The Marksman in 1941.[9]

By 1950, virtually all goods were sold under the "St Michael" label. M&S lingerie, women's clothes and girls' school uniform were branded under the "St Margaret" label until the whole range of general merchandise became "St Michael". Simon Marks, son of Michael Marks, died in 1964, after fifty-six years' service. Israel Sieff took over as chairman and in 1968, John Salisse became the company Director. A cautious international expansion began with the introduction of Asian food in 1974. M&S opened stores in continental Europe in 1975 and in Ireland four years later.[9]

The company put its main emphasis on quality, including a 1957 stocking size measuring system.[9] For most of its history it also had a reputation for offering fair value for money. When this reputation began to waver, it encountered serious difficulties. Arguably, M&S has historically been an iconic retailer of 'British Quality Goods'.[9]

A Marks & Spencer branch in Athens

The uncompromising attitude towards customer relations was summarised by the 1953 slogan: "The customer is always and completely right!"[9]

Energy efficiency was improved by the addition of thermostatically controlled refrigerators in 1963.[9]

M&S has sold Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings since 1958. In an effort to improve the quality of their Swiss rolls, they hired the food expert Nat Goldberg, who made a major improvement across their entire cake range, which had lost the public's favour a few years earlier. As a later measure to improve food quality food labelling was improved and "sell by dates" were phased in between 1970 and 1972.[9]

Smoking was banned from all M&S shops in 1959 because of the fire hazards it posed.[9] It later became a permanent rule after concerns were raised by asthmatics about their health.

The first M&S shop in central Asia was built in Kabul, Afghanistan, in the 1960s but was later shut down, due to political unrest of Soviet Russia.[15]

A Marks & Spencer store in Central, Hong Kong.

M&S expanded into Canada in 1973, and at one point had forty seven stores across Canada. Despite various efforts to improve its image, the chain was never able to move beyond its reputation there as a stodgy retailer, one that catered primarily to senior citizens and expatriate Britons. The shops in Canada were smaller than British outlets, and did not carry the same selection. In the late 1990s, further efforts were made to modernise them and also expand the customer base. Unprofitable locations were closed. Nonetheless, the Canadian operations continued to lose money, and the last 38 shops in Canada were closed in 1999.[16]

Expansion into France began with shops opening in Paris at Boulevard Haussmann and Lyon in 1975, followed by a second Paris shop at Rosny 2 in 1977. Further expansion into other French and Belgian cities followed into the 1980s. Although the Paris shops remained popular and profitable, the Western European operation as a whole did not fare as well and eighteen shops were sold in 2001.[17] However in April 2011, M&S changed directions again with an announcement to reopen a store that will not only sell clothing but food as well. In addition the group will also open several food outlets throughout the French capital. The first branch opened on 24 November 2011 at the Champs-Élysées in a ceremony attended by company CEO Marc Bolland, model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and British Ambassador to France, Sir Peter Westmacott.[18] The Daily Mail reported that 1,000 customers queued outside for over 2 hours at the opening of the 1,400 m2 (15,000 sq ft) store.[18]

In 1988, the company acquired Brooks Brothers, an American clothing company[19] and Kings Super Markets, a US food chain.[20] They were subsequently sold off, in 2001 and 2006 respectively.

M&S's profits peaked in the financial year 1997/1998.[3] At the time it was seen as a continuing success story, but with hindsight it is considered that during Sir Richard Greenbury's tenure as head of the company, profit margins were pushed to untenable levels, and the loyalty of its customers was seriously eroded. The rising cost of using British suppliers was also a burden, as rival retailers increasingly imported their goods from low-cost countries, but M&S's belated switch to overseas suppliers undermined a core part of its appeal to the public. Another factor was the company's refusal until 2001 to accept any credit cards except its own chargecard.[21]

These factors combined to plunge M&S into a sudden slump, which took the company, its shareholders, who included hundreds of thousands of small investors, and nearly all retail analysts and business journalists, by surprise. The company's share price fell by more than two thirds, and its profits fell from more than a billion pounds in 1997 and 1998 to £145 million in the year ended 31 March 2001.[22]

Your M&S promotional logo 2004–present.

Marks & Spencer launched an online shopping service in 1999.[23]

In 2001, with changes in its business focus such as accepting credit cards, the introduction of the "Per Una" clothing range designed by George Davies, and a redesign of its underlying business model, profits recovered somewhat and M&S recovered some of its market share, but it was soon evident that problems remained.

A Marks & Spencer store in Manila

In 2004, M&S was in the throes of an attempted takeover by Arcadia Group & BHS boss, Philip Green.[24] On 12 July a recovery plan was announced which would involve selling off the financial services business to HSBC Bank plc, buying control of the Per Una range, closing the Gateshead Lifestore and stopping the expansion of its Simply Food line of shops. Philip Green withdrew his takeover bid after failing to get sufficient backing from shareholders.[24][25]

In February 2007, M&S announced the opening of the world's largest M&S shop outside the UK at Dubai Festival City.[26]

On 2 October 2008, M&S opened its first mainland China shop in Shanghai. Problems with the supply chain for the first few months of opening led Stuart Rose, M&S chairman, to describe failures in "basic shopkeeping".[27]

In 2013, M&S's clothing division had an 11% market share in the UK, but sales have fallen in recent years. A new label has been created and others revamped.[28][29][30]

May 2013 saw the launch of the Best of British range as well as the overhaul of Per Una and Indigo.[31] Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne became the new marketing director, succeeding Steven Sharp in July. Mark Bolland also vowed to bring "quality and style back" [29][30]

Financial performance[edit]

M&S is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Until 1999 M&S's financial year ended on 31 March. Since then, the company has changed to reporting for 52 or 53-week periods, ending on variable dates.

Year endedTurnover (£ M)Profit before tax (£ M)Net profit (£ M)Basic eps (p)
30 March 201310,026.8564.3458.029.2
31 March 20129,934.3658.0489.632.5
2 April 20119,740.3780.6598.638.8
3 April 20109,536.6702.7523.033.5
28 March 20099,062.1706.2506.832.3
29 March 20089,022.01,129.1821.049.2
31 March 20078,588.1936.7659.939.1
1 April 20067,797.7745.7520.636.4
2 April 20057,490.5505.1355.029.1
3 April 20048,301.5781.6452.324.2
29 March 20038,019.1677.5480.520.7
30 March 20028,135.4335.9153.05.4
31 March 20018,075.7145.52.80.0
1 April 20008,195.5417.5258.79.0
31 March 19998,224.0546.1372.113.0
31 March 19988,243.31,155.0815.928.6
31 March 19977,841.91,129.1746.626.7
31 March 19967,233.7965.8652.6455.8

While underlying sales of food rose 1.7%, sales of general merchandise - which includes clothing - fell 4.1% between May 2012 and May 2013. Chief executive Marc Bolland described the current market as "challenging".[28]

Social and environmental policy[edit]

Look Behind the Label[edit]

In 2006, the Look Behind the Label marketing campaign was introduced.[32] The aim of this campaign was to highlight to customers the various ethical and environmentally friendly aspects of the production and sourcing methods engaged in by M&S including: Fairtrade products, sustainable fishing and environmentally friendly textile dyes. All coffee and tea sold in M&S stores is now Fairtrade.[33] In addition, the company offers clothing lines made from Fairtrade cotton in selected departments.[34]

At Christmas, the company introduces a range of food products to support the housing charity Shelter,[35] predominantly in the food-to-go line including a range of seasonal Christmas sandwiches.

Plan A[edit]

M&S store on Birmingham High Street

On 15 January 2007, M&S launched an initiative, known as "Plan A",[36] to dramatically increase the environmental sustainability of the business within 5 years and expected to cost £200 million.[37]

The plan covers "100 commitments over 5 years to address the key social and environmental challenges facing M&S today and in the future" with the tag-line "Because there is no Plan B". The commitments span five themes: climate change, waste, sustainable raw materials, 'fair partnership' and health,[36] with the aim that, by 2012, it will:[38]

Despite an 18% fall in the share price in January 2008, following publication of their latest trading statement, the company confirmed that they would be continuing with the plan, saying that there were 'compelling commercial — as well as moral — reasons to do so'.[39]

The now iconic brown, reusable, hessian bag was first introduced in 2007 as an early part of this plan. It is hoped that this will reduce the use of plastic carrier bags over the next few years.[9]

In May 2008 the 5p carrier bag scheme was introduced at M&S stores, with customers now paying 5p per standard sized vest carrier bag for food purchases. This implementation was brought about through the Plan A scheme,[36] to try to discourage use of the traditional plastic bag.[40] All profits from the sale of food bags used to go to Groundwork UK.[41] In June 2011, M&S launched the Forever Fish campaign to promote the protection of Marine Wildlife in the UK. As of the end of June 2011, all profits from the sale of food bags now go to this charity.[42]

In becoming carbon neutral the company has committed to only use carbon offsetting as a last resort,[43] restricted to cases "where it is required by government or where the technology for green air or road transport will not be available for the foreseeable future".[44]

As of August 2008, M&S had three wind turbines in operation, one at Methlick and two near Strichen, generating enough power to supply three stores via the National Grid.[45] In April 2009 the company began purchasing 2.6 TWh of renewable energy (wind and hydroelectric) from Npower, enough to power all Marks & Spencer stores and offices in England and Wales.[46]

Charity work[edit]

M&S has sold a wide range of charitable women's clothes for Breakthrough Breast Cancer[47] for many years and the Ashbourne store collected a total of £2,000 for a local Derbyshire hospital's new ECG machine in 2010.[48]

In 2011 M&S launch Oxfam's clothes recycling initiative [49]



Marks & Spencer has been criticised by pro-Palestinian activists over what they claim is its past support for Zionism, and for fruit trading with Israel.[50] A shop in Brighton was vandalised in 2004 with pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist graffiti.[51]

The company states, "We deal with politicians and officials, in government and opposition. We do not support or align ourselves to political parties and make no political donations".[52]

Comprehensive Spending Review[edit]

In October 2010, chairman Sir Stuart Rose was a signatory to a controversial letter to The Daily Telegraph[53] which claimed that "The private sector should be more than capable of generating additional jobs to replace those lost in the public sector, and the redeployment of people to more productive activities will improve economic performance, so generating more employment opportunities", despite recent job cuts of 1,000 staff.[54] This prompted calls for a boycott of Marks & Spencer and the companies represented by the other signatories to the letter.[55]

Contactless payment issues[edit]

Some Marks & Spencer customers claim that the chain's contactless payment terminals have taken money from cards other than the ones intended for payment. Contactless cards are supposed to be within about 4 cm of the front of the terminal to work. M&S investigated the incident and confirmed the new system had been extensively tested and was robust. It had recently rolled out the contactless payments system, provided by Visa Europe, to 644 UK stores.[56]

Muslim checkout-staff policy[edit]

In December 2013, Marks & Spencer announced that Muslim checkout staff in the UK could refuse to sell pork products or alcohol to customers at their till.[57] The policy was announced after at least one news outlet reported that customers waiting with goods that included pork or alcohol were refused service, and were told by a Muslim checkout worker to wait until another till became available.[58] The policy applied across all 703 UK M&S stores and prompted a strong backlash by customers.[59]

A company spokesman subsequently apologised and stated that they will attempt to reassign staff whose beliefs may impact their work to different departments, such as clothing.[60]



During the height of the company's troubles at the beginning of the 21st century, the St Michael brand used as the selling label for all M&S products was discontinued in favour of Marks & Spencer and a new logo in the Optima typeface was introduced and began to appear in place of St Michael on product packaging. The same logo was also applied to store fascias and carrier bags. The St Michael name was subsequently adopted as a 'quality guarantee' and appeared as the St Michael Quality Promise on the back of food products, on the side of delivery vehicles and on in-store ordering receipts. This has since been phased out, although receipts for made-to-order furniture still feature this 'seal of approval' on the bottom.

Your M&S[edit]

When Steve Sharp joined as marketing director in 2004, after being hired by new Chief Executive Sir Stuart Rose, he introduced a new promotional brand under the Your M&S banner, with a corresponding logo.[61] This has now become the company's main brand in its advertising, online presence and in-store merchandising. The clean fonts and modern colours of the new image are somewhat incongruous alongside the traditional M&S signage and associated fittings that still adorn many of the unmodernised 'core' stores themselves. The only thing in common with the former design is the use of M&S traditional green in the ampersand of the new logo. In 2007, the same typeface used for the new M&S logo was adopted to replace the Optima logo used on product packaging and store fascias since 2000. This new logo is also beginning to appear on new-style sewn in clothing labels and presented in its linear, non-stacked form, complete with lime-green ampersand.

High profile media campaigns[edit]

M&S has always run newspaper and/or Magazine ads since the early 1950s, but the introduction of some famous stars such as Twiggy[62][63] and David Jason in various TV ads has helped raise the company's profile. Twiggy first appeared in 1967, returning later in 1995 and 2005. Anne Grierson[9] first featured in adverts during the late 1950s and most of the 1960s. In later years, Erin O'Connor,[62] Myleene Klass,[62] Tanja Nadjila, Peter Kay, David Beckham,[9] Antonio Banderas,[9] Claudia Schiffer,[9] Helena Christensen,[9] Tatjana Patitz,[9] Lisa Snowdon, Dannii Minogue, V V Brown and Carmen Kass have also featured in a few ads, along with many others.[9] John Sergeant, David Jason and Joanna Lumley have either appeared in or voiced over adverts since 2008.[9]

The new look has been instrumental in the company's recent resurgence, particularly with the success of a new clothing campaign featuring the celebrated model, Twiggy, and younger models associated with the bohemian styles of 2005–6, and the new TV ad campaign for its food range. These adverts have the tag-line "This is not just food, this is M&S food" and feature slow motion, close-up footage of various food products, described in a sultry voice-over by Dervla Kirwan, to an enticing instrumental song — most notably Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross" as well as Santana's "Samba Pa Ti", Olly Murs' "Busy", Groove Armada's "At the River" or Spandau Ballet's "True". These adverts have been referred to by both fans and critics as being food porn, with a number of other companies copying the idea, such as Aldi and, most recently, Waitrose.[64]

The 2009 TV advertising campaign drew complaints, leading to national press coverage, regarding sexism.[65]

It was confirmed that Dannii Minogue would be one of the new faces of Marks & Spencer. She filmed her first commercial in South Africa, which featured Cheryl Lynn's "Got to Be Real", for their Spring campaign that aired 24 March 2010.[66] She starred alongside Twiggy, Lisa Snowdon, V V Brown and Ana Beatriz Barros. While Minogue did not feature in the Autumn ad due to her pregnancy, she did appear in the Christmas ad with Peter Kay which featured the Bee Gees' "You Should Be Dancing".

Dannii travelled to Miami, Florida in January 2011 to shoot the commercial for M&S for the 2011 Spring collection, prior to her contractual termination. In August 2011, M&S announced the new faces of their campaigns would be Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Ryan Reynolds and David Gandy.[67]

To be launched on 31 March 2014, the new iteration of the 'Leading Ladies' marketing campaign features figures such as Emma Thompson, Annie Lennox, Rita Ora and Baroness Lawrence.[68]

New store format[edit]

store in Sutton, Greater London

A new store format designed by Urban Salon Architects[69] has won much praise and is in the process of being rolled out across all stores, with a majority of stores being completed by the end of 2008.

Brighter look[edit]

The full new-look makeover is a reworking of store design, including the gutting of old stores, and a brighter, more spacious, modern and contemporary design, replacing carpets and laminate floors with white tile throughout (black tile in Foods, apart from in the Leamington high street and Merry Hill store) thus opening the floor instead of having pathways. There will also be new contemporary white mannequins in new designs and poses, new displays and kit such as new design clothing rails, avant garde product stands (formerly known as "Lutons"), display and product walls, window display styles, larger fitting rooms, glass walls, till points, and general total updating of decals, signage, equipment (including smaller CCTV dome cameras), and lighting. 'Concept 11' is a new store concept design that was launched at the Marble Arch store in 2011. The new concept consists of new equipment and props for greater distinction between instore brands. For example, North Coast has an industrial look with scaffolding for rails, and a steel beam above a feature wooden crate style table; whilst Blue Harbour has a flag hung above a varnished wooden feature table and feature wooden cabinets built-in as wall dividers with props such as oars hung on the walls. The new concept is all about distinguishing brand identities as well as opening up the stores with improved signage and feature displays. To coincide with the new concept being rolled out across stores, each store that becomes concept adopts a new, redesigned staff uniform which moves away from black polo shirts for staff to brighter green and white shirts to make them more distinguishable on the shop floor.

A typical example of an un-modernised 'core' M&S store, located in Kirkcaldy, Fife. However as of 2012 the store has now been fully refurbished with the so-called "Light Touch" re-fit.

Several of the old 'Luton' format stores have received what is known internally as a 'Light Touch' re-fit, which involves bringing the store up-to-date with new floors, till points, mannequins and signage (the actual work differs per store) but not to the extent of a full refurbishment, as mentioned above. This occurs in stores that are subject to re-development or re-location.

Stacked logo

Self check-outs[edit]

M&S introduced self check-out tills in the food-halls of a small number of trial stores in 2002. Self check-out was implemented in the general merchandise sections in three trial stores in 2006[70] and roll-out to flagship stores is in progress.

Product line history[edit]

"St Michael" was a brand that was owned and used by Marks & Spencer from 1928 until 2000.

The brand was introduced by Simon Marks in 1928, after his father and co-founder of Marks & Spencer, Michael Marks. By 1950, virtually all goods were sold under the St Michael brand. M&S lingerie, women's clothing and girls' uniform were branded under the St Margaret brand, until the whole range of general merchandise became St Michael.

Marks & Spencer were selling clothes under the St Margaret and St Michael label by the mid-1950s and launched their school uniforms in the early 1950s.[9] The synthetic fibre Tricell was first used in 1957 and lasted until the 1970s.[9] and another synthetic fibre called Coutelle was first launched, nationally, by Marks & Spencer during 1960 and also lasted well into the 1970s.[9] Machine washable wool first appeared in 1972 and Lycra hosiery first came in during 1986.[9]

M&S launched their own brands of domestic products, such as washing powder and aluminium foil in 1972, under the brand name of 'House-care'.[9]

In 2000, Marks & Spencer dropped the St Michael brand, and replacing it with the "Marks & Spencer" brand. The St Michael name was subsequently adopted as a 'quality guarantee' and appeared as the St Michael Quality Promise on the back of food products, on the side of delivery vehicles and on in-store ordering receipts. The St Michael Quality Promise was phased out a few years ago.

In 2000, as part of the corporate modernisation plan,[9] brands such as Autograph were launched.[9]

M&S's relatively successful interior design 'Home' brand was launched in 2005 and featured products like vases, furniture and beds.[9]

Boil-in-the-bag and sachet meals were first pioneered by M&S in 1972 and the award winning Gastropub food range was launched in 2004. The 'Melting middle chocolate pudding' campaign of 2005 has led to a remarkable 3,000% rise in chocolate pudding sales, something that has not recurred since. The Percy Pigs sweets were first created in 1995[71] and the billionth "Percy Pig" sweet was sold by the October 2007.[9]

Per Una[edit]

Per Una's logo, three hearts.

"Per Una" was launched on 28 September 2001 as a joint venture between M&S and Next founder George Davies with the contribution of Julie Strang.

The Per Una brand has been a major success for the company,[72] and in October 2004, M&S bought the brand in a £125 million, two-year service contract with George Davies.[73] Mr Davies was to stay on for at least two years to run the company, with 12 months notice required if he wished to leave.[72][73]

The teenagers' line called Per Una Due was launched in early 2004,[74] but sales were poor and it was discontinued in the May 2004, whilst the adult lines had flourished by 2010.[75][76]

Current M&S product lines[edit]

Marks & Spencer Percy Pigs

Online services[edit]

Products could be ordered online since the mid-2000s, in response to Tesco launching their pioneering home shopping delivery service in the early 2000s. Both Tesco, M&S and others are expanding rapidly into this new niche market.

M&S TV is an online TV station to advertise goods.[89]

The online flower service was accused of unfair trading and using Google to piggy-back advertise on online searches aimed at Interflora online in 2010.[90]

The John Lewis shopping chain beat M&S to the title of the UK's best high-street website by late 2010.[91]

As of May 2013, the Republic of Ireland now handles more than 50% of online trade.[28][29][30]


Old labels[edit]

The 'St Margaret', 'St Michael' and 'Homecare' brands were the time-honoured brand labels that fell out of use in the company-wide re-branding campaign of the early 2000s.[9] The stylish 1996–1997 'Orient Express Tagged' brand was the first of numerous new brands, most of which were in feminine and children's clothes.[9] The 'Orient Express Tagged' brand was part of the inspiration behind the 'Portfolio' brand.[9] The men's Autograph brand was then launched in 2000[9] and continues to this day.[92][93][94]

Sir Stuart Rose axed the ailing casual menswear brand SP Clothing, the View From sportswear range, the David Beckham children's range, DB07 clothes, the teenage range Per Una Due and several food lines in 2004, because he thought the business’ stock inventory management had become 'too complicated'.[75][76][95]

The retailer had launched several brands, sub-brands and lines of women's wear and children's wear in recent years such as Indigo Collection Junior, Indigo Collection and Portfolio. Indigo Collection aimed at women over 30s, while Portfolio 45s. Overall, M &S has 10 women's wear sub-brands and sub-sub-brands, such as Per Una and Autograph, but only six menswear brands, such as Blue Harbour, North Coast and Collezione by 2010.[96]

2008-9 restructuring plan[edit]

As part of the 2008-9 restructuring plan, 9 sub-brands that were deemed to be unprofitable, unnecessary or superfluous were either discontinued, merged or relaunched in 2008, with further activity, including some store closures, occurred in both 2009 and 2010.

Line, sub-brand or brand involved.Date of action.Fate of line, sub-brand or brand involved.Source(s).
Floor 1 discount brands—women's discount fashion clothesEarly 2008/the festive season of 2008–2009Replaced by the 'Designer discount' line in early 2008. It was relaunched in the festive season 2008–2009 as- By me now or lose me for ever- limited editions.
Romper-suit republic—baby clothes (was only available online)2008Discontinued.
The Shirt-sleeve empire—boys' shirts (was only available online)2008Discontinued.
Essential—up market skirts and t-shirts2009Merged into Portfolio, along with Perfect. 'Essential' now also continues as a seasonal line of the 'Autograph' brand..[97]
Perfect—upmarket trousers, skirts and blouses2009Merged into Portfolio, along with Essential. Perfect still operates in men's rain coats and cookware. 'Perfect' was relaunched in January 2010 as a seasonal sub-brand of 'Portfolio'.
Plus range maternity (large stores only).2008Merged with Limited Collection Maternity as 'M&S Maternity'..
Limited Collection Maternity2008Merged with Plus Range Maternity as 'M&S Maternity' to simplify administration.,[98][99][99]
The Zandra Rhodes collection was an upmarket woollen clothes and t-shirts modelled and made by the British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, CBE/RDIFebruary 2010It was launched in April 2009, but was let gradually run down in the festive season during December 2009 and January 2010. It was finally discontinued due to poor sales performance in February 2010.,.[100][101]
'Party, Party, Party!' was a line of seasonal party clothesJuly/October 2010.Discontinued in July 2010, but then relaunched as 'Partyware' October 2010.[102]
'Katy Livingston' was an up market sports clothes and merchandise relating to the British athlete Katy Livingston.Mid 2010It was launched in early 2009 and developed into the 'Performance' brand. 'Performance' was the resulting line of serious sportswear for dedicated female athletes that would merge with the feminine 'Sportswere' line in mid-2010 due to the need for administrative simplification.
'Frenchay' (was only available online)- French made, utilitarian/good value plastic home ware, clothes pegs, clothes hangers, etc.The Festive season of 2008–2009.It was merged into the other 'Kitchens' brands.
'Fashion line'- babies' fashion clothesEarly 2010It merged with Babyware and Petite Babe..
'Ready to play' playwearEarly 2010Discontinued, but some designs continued under the 'Casual line'.[103]
'Themed collection'- Cartoon and story book character merchandised clothinglate 2008Merged with Character shop.
'Nightware'- Teen's night clothesEarly 2010Merged with the 'Sleepware' line.
B.C.A.M.- charitable merchandise aimed at raising awareness of breast cancer.The Festive season of 2009–2010.Merged with B.C.A.UK as 'Love Pink'..
B.C.A.U.K.- on line charitable T-shirts for the under 40s.The Festive season of 2009–2010.Merged with B.C.A.M. as 'Love Pink'..
'Food to go' lineThe Festive season of 2010–2011.It was merged into ’Lunchtogo’ during the festive season of 2010–2011.
'Best of British' lineMay 2013Launched..

2010 product audit[edit]

Another review and rebranding exercise was planned for late 2010 and 2011 after several years of declining sales in the womenswear department as born out by an audit conducted by the firm the Retail Knowledge Bank in August 2010.

2011 brand cull[edit]

Marc Bolland had considered axing several brands in early 2011 after an audit by the Retail Knowledge Bank in August 2010 revealed that sales of M&S womenswear were at a 10-year low. The audit covered both the Limited Collection, Autograph, Autograph Weekend, Classic Collection, Per Una, Portfolio and Indigo.[75][76]

In mid-2010, Draper magazine claimed that Per Una was the only clothing brand that was not at risk of being axed in Mr Bolland's shake-up of the plethora of clothing brands sold at M&S.[96] Per Una was planned to stay due to its successful and distinctive flair, but Portfolio and Indigo were planned go due to poor sales.[75][76] Both the Limited Collection, Autograph, Autograph Weekend, Classic Collection brands were being considered for the cull during mid-2010, but were later given a reprieve.[109]

It was revealed in November 2010, that there would be a major 3-year UK store revamp, which would cost between £850,000,000 and £900,000,000 and a cull of what Bolland called ""the often confusing" store layouts and "indistinguishable brands".[110][111]

M&S also announced it was planning to take Twiggy international some time during 2010–2011.[96]

In April, director of lingerie and beauty Janie Schaffer, quit after just 3 months in her job.[28][29][30]

Belinda Earl, a former chief executive of both Debenhams and became the head of style and a new autumn/winter clothing collection was launched to win back disaffected customers.[28][29][30]

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Bolland said: "We won't duck the fact that we feel we have underperformed in general merchandise." He then added "We have to improve on quality" in the interview.[28][29][30]

Mr Bolland also defended the company's tax affairs in the wake of controversy over tax avoidance schemes.[28][29][30]

He said that there was "nothing fiscal" in the company's use of Ireland as a trading hub for its international e-commerce business, as the country now handles more than 50% of online trade.[28][29][30]

Store and depot locations[edit]

Planned 2010 store closures

Twenty-two unprofitable and minor food stores, such as the ones at Ripon and Balham, were closed in early 2009 as part of a cost cutting measure.[9]

In August 2010, it was confirmed that the Grantham branch of M&S would close, along with two other Lincolnshire branches in Skegness and Scunthorpe, due to low sales in these older format stores. The closures were met with protests from the local communities and petitions were signed in support of retaining the stores. Despite these protests, the store closures will go ahead.[112]

New stores opening It was revealed in November 2010, that new stores would be opening in China and India. One of the planned stores is scheduled to open in the Shanghai region in 2011.[111]

2010 plan[edit]

On 9 November 2010, chief executive Marc Bolland revealed plans to strengthen the company’s overall brand image and targeting sales of between £800m and £1bn for which company will increase capital expenditure to £850m to £900m over the next three years to fund the plans. As per the 2010 Plan company will stop its 'Portfolio' fashion brand, sales of electrical products and revamp its website. The company also announced a new marketing strapline – 'Only at M&S'.[113]

May–August 2011 corporate revamp[edit]

Fashion guru Sara Bradley was reported in March as planning to take a 'senior role' within M&S's clothing business by mid-2011.[114][115]

By 25 May 2011, Marc Bolland, had ordered a new store design that the company would spend a capital expenditure of about £600m between 2011 and 2014 on its UK stores.[116]

The scheme will involve M&S launching a range of different store formats based on the age, affluence and demographics of people in the various areas from October, in what will be termed the "cluster" model internally. A new in-store "navigation scheme" will be launched after research showed that shoppers found M&S store layouts confusing and "difficult to shop [in]".[116]

The chain was also forced to increase the amount of money-off promotions and deals that it offered due to the declining economic climate in the UK.[116]

The firm's packaging, clothing brands and labels will change. The retailer has announced plans to abandon the "Marks & Spencer" label from its clothes, replacing it with "M&S Woman" and "M&S Man". It will also re-launch its Per Una and North Coast clothing sub-brands.[116]

The official goal is to be better at food than supermarkets and better at clothes and general merchandise than department stores.[117]

Marks & Spencer dropped a series of planned television adverts in the July 2011, featuring Twiggy, Dannii Minogue and VV Brown as it started its corporate image revamp.[118]

Twiggy was expected to be appearing on billboards and in-store promotions for a while longer with the retailer.[118]

Both Lisa Snowdon and Jamie Redknapp were still continuing to promote the Marks & Spencer brand in future.[118]

Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger's daughter Lizzy, were reportedly removed from the corporate commercial series listings earlier that year.[118]

Alison Jones, who is the daughter of Sir David Jones, joined M&S on 2 June, as the new brand director for general merchandise, under the leadership of marketing director, Steve Sharp. She had gained previous experience at Topshop and Debenhams. The role has been created to give a more cohesive approach to M&S's branding and help develop and co-ordinate the brand and strategy for M&S's clothing division.[119]

May 2013 corporate revamp[edit]

In April 2013 the M&S lingerie chief, Janie Schaffer, quit after only months in the job.[120]

On 15 May 2013 the 'Best of British range' was launched and Per Una and Indigo were overhauled. [31] Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne - currently M&S's corporate director of strategy implementation and business development became the new marketing director and will succeed Steven Sharp in July. Mark Bolland also vowed to bring "quality and style back" [29][30]

The chain already has 20 UK suppliers and is looking to increase that number.[31]

In November 2013, it was revealed that Bill Adderley, founder of homeware chain Dunelm Group, had amassed a £250m stake in M&S over the past 18 months. This disclosure was made as stock market rules mean that any holding over 3 per cent share must be made public.[121]

Head office locations[edit]


The headquarters of M&S was for a hundred years at Michael House, 55 Baker Street, London. In 2004 the company moved to a new headquarters designed by mossessian & partners at Waterside House in the new Paddington Basin, London.[122]

Across the UK[edit]

As well as the main offices in London, there are a number of other head office sites across the UK; Stockley Park (IT Services), Salford Quays and Spinningfields, Greater Manchester (Marks & Spencer Shared Services Ltd. which provides human resources, and finance administration),[123][124] Chester (HSBC's M&S Money[125] and Retail Customer Services), and Draycott (per una).


The company has overseas sourcing offices in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, China, Italy, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.[126]


UK and Ireland shops[edit]

A picture of Banbury's M&S in 2010

M&S have almost 800 stores throughout the UK.[2] This includes the flagship, and largest, shop, Marble Arch, London, on Oxford Street, which has around 16,000 square metres (170,000 sq ft) of shop floor.

M&S White City in Westfield London, one of the largest stores.

The second largest is in Cheshire Oaks, Ellesmere Port, which is the largest outside London.[127] The third largest shop is at the Gemini Retail Park in Warrington. In 1999 M&S opened its shop in Manchester's Exchange Square, which was destroyed in the 1996 Manchester bombing and rebuilt. At re-opening, it was the largest M&S shop with 23,000 m2 (250,000 sq ft) of retail space, but half was subsequently sold to Selfridges, the company's second site in Manchester. The smallest branch is an outlet located in the Grainger Market in Newcastle upon Tyne.[128]

M&S shop in Inverness in 1998

M&S has opened a number of stores at out of town locations since the trend to build shopping centres away from town centres became popular in the 1980s. The first was at the MetroCentre, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, which opened in 1986. Another notable example is the store at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre at Brierley Hill, West Midlands. This store opened on 23 October 1990 shortly after the closure of stores in the nearby town centres of Dudley and West Bromwich; the Merry Hill store was not originally intended to be replace these two town centres store, but both the Dudley and West Bromwich stores had experienced a downturn in trade as the opening of the Merry Hill store loomed, and both stores were closed on 25 August 1990.[129]

At the beginning of 2011, M&S closed three shops in Lincolnshire. Despite much protesting and local media coverage the three stores in Grantham, Skegness and Scunthorpe were all closed, Marks & Spencer citing poor sales. All three towns have now lost their main high-street retailer and concerns have been raised about the viability of the shopping centres now that M&S have deserted them.

Before Christmas 2006, twenty-two M&S shops were open for 24-hour trading including the recently opened new retail park stores at Bolton Middlebrook and at the Abbey Centre, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland.[130][131]

M&S have over 20 shops including three Simply Food outlets throughout Ireland. M&S opened its first shop in the Republic on Mary Street, Dublin in 1979 (now part of the Jervis Shopping Centre). A shop in Grafton Street, followed in 1988, Cork in 1989, then in 1996 the Grafton Street location to its present location in the former Brown Thomas store and finally the first out-of-town shop in Liffey Valley in October 1998. The new Grafton Street shop now boasts M&S's only 'The Restaurant' offering outside of the UK.

The newest Irish outlet in Douglas opened on 25 November 2010 at Douglas Village Shopping Centre, Cork. The Douglas shop is a fairly small outlet devoting some space to the M&S clothing range, and a food hall. The store was badly damaged by floods in Douglas during June 2012 and closed for extensive repairs. The Irish stores use a similar format and product line to the UK stores, including use of the M&S logo (which at Liffey Valley is the only logo used on exterior signs since a June 2007 refit and since opening in Killarney).

The company is committed to the expansion of its Irish operations with a number of new shops opened in 2009 including Clonmel (opened 25 June 2009), Navan, and Limerick which is one of the largest in Ireland at 10,000 m2 (110,000 sq ft) but will be overtaken shortly after by a new store in Swords, County Dublin at 12,000 m2 (130,000 sq ft). The largest M&S stores in Ireland are all in Dublin: the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre located in Lucan, County Dublin/Clondalkin in South Dublin, at Mary Street in Dublin city centre and at Dundrum Town Centre in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown.

The company's website has received criticism for having its prices in Pound sterling and not in euro, and for providing a search for its Irish stores through a "UK Store Finder".[132] The Irish Times pointed out that M&S failed to explain why the company is in a position to deliver goods ordered from its website to Brazil, Argentina, Iraq and Afghanistan but not to Ireland. M&S did not comment.[133]

Shops outside the UK and Ireland[edit]

M&S store at Wenceslas square in Prague, Czech Republic

The company reopened its store in Paris on 24 November 2011, following the launch of a new French website on 11 October 2011.[134] In the Philippines there are 18 M&S shops, the largest of which is located in Greenbelt Mall. A new store opened on 17 April 2013 in Kalverstraat in Amsterdam, Netherlands, more than 10 years after closure of the previous store. On 17 September 2013 the British ambassador to the Netherlands, Sir Geoffrey Adams, opened the first Dutch Marks & Spencer Food pilot store at a BP petrol station in Bijleveld beside the A12 motorway.[135][136]

There are over 300 stores in some 40 overseas locations[137] including the following: Armenia, Bahrain, Bermuda, Bulgaria, People's Republic of China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Jersey, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates.


On 11 November 2013, Marks & Spencer announced "that it is set to have about 80 stores open in the region by 2016 as part of its strategy to become a leading international, multichannel retailer" with partner Reliance Retail.[138] It opened a flagship store in Bandra in Mumbai.[138] M&S sales of lingerie accounts for more than a fifth of the sales in the Indian market, with total lingerie sales increasing by a third during the last six months of 2013.[138]

Shop formats[edit]

Core shops[edit]

M&S core shops typically feature a selection of the company's clothing ranges and an M&S food hall. The range of clothing sold and the space given to it depends on the location and customer demographic (an example would be that some London shops do not stock the Classic Collection, but stock Limited Collection and a full Autograph range).

Most core shops feature a Food hall. All the St Michael Food hall supermarkets were renamed M&S Food hall when Marks & Spencer dropped the St Michael brand in 2000. Each M&S Food hall sells groceries, which are all under the Marks & Spencer brand. However, in 2009 the company began selling a limited range of other brands, such as Coca-Cola and Stella Artois, without reducing the number of M&S goods they sold. This marked the first time in its 125 year history that Marks & Spencer had sold any brands other than its own.[139]


Most M&S shops feature some sort of hospitality offering, usually in the form of an M&S Café. These cafés were formerly known as Café Revive and many old format stores still brand them as such. The café offering typically includes coffees and teas (all fairtrade), pastries, toasted sandwiches, soups and cakes. The company also trialled the opening of an Espresso Bar in some outlets, which specialised in drinks only, however these have subsequently been rebranded as M&S Cafés.

Many large shops, such as Westfield, White City, Cribbs Causeway and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, also offer other hospitality outlets, such as a modern Deli Bar (champagne, canapés, seafood), Restaurant (table service—the first of which was opened in Newcastle) M&S Kitchen (traditional home cooking & lunches) or Hot Food To Go (burgers, chips, soups). Many of these outlets are run in conjunction with Compass Group under franchise arrangements.[140]

Home Stores[edit]

In 2007, M&S announced that new, dedicated shops for home furnishings were to be launched. Shops have now been opened in Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, Lisburn in Northern Ireland[141] and in the Barton Square section of The Trafford Centre, Manchester.[142]

Outlet Shops[edit]

As of 2010, M&S have 50 outlet stores and growth expansion plans for future.[143] The Outlet division offers M&S products with the majority of them discounting at least 30% from the original selling price.[144] The first of these stores opened at Ashford in Kent in 2000. Many of the Outlet shops are in locations such as retail parks and outlet centres, though some, including the shop in Woolwich, South London[145] and Newton Abbot, Devon were previously main M&S shops which converted to the Outlet format. Meadow Bank Outlet Store in Edinburgh became the model for all the Marks and Spencer Outlet shop in the early months of 2010. There are now also stores which combine a mainline M&S store and an Outlet store to create a store which offers both the main current full-price M&S ranges and the discounted Outlet ranges: one such store is at the Lewisham Shopping Centre, where the previously closed upper level of the M&S store was reopened in January 2009 as an Outlet format sub-store;[146]

M&S Simply Food[edit]

M&S Simply Food in Banstead, Surrey

M&S is in the middle of a programme to open four hundred Simply Food shop selling predominantly food but with most also carrying a small selection of general merchandise, like birthday cards and homewares. The first of the 'Simply Food' shops were in Twickenham and Surbiton.[147]

A number of these are run under franchise agreements:

Orders from M&S account for more than half of Uniq's food product supplies to UK retailers in 2010[151] after several years service as a major M & S food product supplier.

In 2011 it was noted that M&S were operating Express pricing; i.e., charging more in their Simply Food branches than in regular branches. A spokesperson stated that "prices are a little higher than at our high street stores but this reflects the fact that these stores are open longer and are highly convenient for customers on the move".[152]

Senior management[edit]

The following have served as the Chairman of the company since it was founded:

See also[edit]


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  • Burns, Paul (2008). Corporate Entrepreneurship: Building an Entrepreneurial Organization. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-023-054-263-1. 

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