Management Case Study on Marks and Spencer Company

Marks and Spencer Company


Marks and Spencer is a British general retailer company selling clothes, home furnishings, gifts, and foodstuffs. It caters for a wide variety of customers located in United Kingdom, United States, and Europe among other global regions. The multinational firm also operates financial services accounting for a certain percent of the company’s profits. It was started in 1884 by Michael Marks within the Leads market through a loan from a wholesaler. The owner ensured strategies allied to quality, value, and low prices were the hallmark to the company’s growth and development. In 1991, the firm had undergone tremendous growth enabling ownership of thirty-five outlets and a new partner known as Tom Spencer. In 1949, company store outlets commenced carrying out the private label known as St. Michael. This was also branded among products manufactured from British suppliers. The company has therefore undergone changes in attempts to grow, develop, and expand further. The owners believe the changes are consistently undertaken in efforts to provide consumers with high quality products, value, and services (Ilan 2000, p. 2).

The purpose of this research is to analyze and evaluate the recent changes undertaken at the company. The research will mainly rely on development management based on the theory determining management, marketing, and organizational strategies. These strategies also play a key role in influencing leadership skills in a firm. Thus, the recent changes at Marks and Spencer Company allied to sustainable growth and development will be evaluated based on cultural, economic, and political aspects affecting the firm. They also affect decision-making procedures undertaken by firm managers as they have a personal stake or agenda on the success of the firm. This is research is therefore applicable among firms willing to undergo changes in order to sustain growth and development. It will provide the firms with first hand insights that have influenced how Marks and Spencer Company has sustainably developed into the current global and multinational firm meeting and fulfilling consumer needs, wants and expectations. Consequently, it will attempt to provide personal insights on how individuals can achieve sustainable personal and professional development.

Principles Guiding Marks and Spencer Company

The Marks and Spencer Company was developed to operate and function on a number of principles sustaining growth and development while achieving quality and value. Thus, the company has undergone changes based on these five principles in order to guarantee it succeeds and thrives in future. Foremost, Marks and Spencer Company strives to achieve long-term relationships with manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and customers. Consequently, it strives to provide value at affordable prices through narrow merchandise selections. It also understands the need to support local British industry. This is because the support is crucial in enabling the company to grow and expand in a fairly competitive environment (Ilan 2000, p. 2).

As a result, it seeks to promote its brands across the industry to achieve and sustain brand loyalty. More importantly, it ensures employees, producers, and customers are valued, supported, and motivated to be loyal. This principle is undertaken by ensuring the firm encourages manufacturers and distributors to seek and achieve quality in a flexible working environment in order to charm consumers with affection. It also ensures the products and services being distributed are high quality and valuable. However, they have to be accessible and affordable to the consumers hence, the principle to set low prices (Ilan 2000, p. 3).


Concepts of International Marketing and Strategies

International marketing involves activities undertaken by firms and commercial organizations in order to make marketing mix decisions beyond national boundaries. These decisions play a vital role in ensuring a company engages in various changes to achieve sustainable growth and development (Danjuma, Audu & Omaku 2014, p. 6).

Thus, Marks and Spencer Company could not grow and expand into the current multinational firm without implementing international marketing strategies. It had to ensure they were combined through promotions, advertisements, and campaigns to raise public awareness capturing consumers’ attentions. This further led to development and rise in consumers’ interests, which translated, to frequent visits at the company in order to determine the products and services being offered. Consequently, the firm had to ensure the services and products being offered are high quality and valuable at affordable prices (Ilan 2000, p. 4). This decision was strategically implemented to achieve consumer loyalty, which is vital in acquisition of sustainable development. More so, Marks and Spencer had to establish manufacturing facilities beyond British markets across overseas. The facilities were coordinated with the firm’s marketing strategies globally. Economic, social, cultural, political, legal, and technological groups segmented the strategies in order to constitute international marketing environment. Various measures were however strictly implemented in order to guarantee success either at equal or greater levels in comparison to British markets (Adromida 2011, p. 1).

Foremost, consumers’ languages, cultural beliefs, religious backgrounds, purchasing patterns, perceptions, and attitudes had to be evaluated. This provided the company with an opportunity to ensure the products and services being distributed through the firm logo are neither low quality nor unfulfilling. These factors also ensured consumer beliefs, needs, wants, and desires played a role in the firm’s decision to set up outlets. More importantly, the company had to pay attention on the legal laws governing the retail industry in the hosting country. This is because United Kingdom laws differ from other laws implemented in countries such as United States, Israel, or in the Far East. Thus, it would be careless and impractical for Marks and Spencer Company to set base in United States expecting to run the business in a similar manner as United Kingdom. As a result, the firm had to research laws within the hosting country. This helped the firm in determining business functions and operations within the host country’s legal limits (Ilan 2000, p. 6).

The process of marketing is therefore a manner through which commercial organizations anticipate, stimulate, regulate and facilitate changes within the company. This is undertaken to enhance consumer satisfaction hence, increasing demand levels for products and services. Consequently, the organization exchanges ideas to implement changes considered viable in guaranteeing the firm’s future success with regards to economic benefits. The Marks and Spencer Company has often relied on changes allied to availability of products and services. These changes are implemented while ensuring consumers are able to access and afford the firm’s products and services easily in order to derive satisfaction hence, meeting, and fulfilling their expectations and desires (Danjuma, Audu & Omaku 2014, p. 7).

Marks and Spencer Company Marketing Strategy

The Marks and Spencer Company marketing strategy has been divided into general merchandise, financial services, and foodstuffs to achieve organized diversity. These segments are further divided as follows. Foremost, the general merchandise is further divided into footwear, children toys, cloths, undergarments, home furnishings, handbags, cosmetics, and books. Consequently, foodstuffs are expanded to include perishable, ethnic, readily prepared, alcoholic, and non-alcoholic drinks among others. In 1999, the company began changing food offerings through new bistro style meals while introducing coffee bars, juices and foot departmental stores. Lastly, financial services are diversified to include store credit cards, personal equity loans, personal loans, life insurance, pension contracts, and unit trusts (Ilan 2000, p. 3).

The Marks and Spencer credit cards are however acceptable across British stores only. Thus, the firm does not accept Master Cards, American Express, Visa, and Discover. However, customers are allowed to deposit money into the Marks and Spencer credit cards for up to twenty times an individual’s purchasing power. For example, when a customer deposits two hundred dollars, he/she qualifies for a four thousand line of credit. These marketing segments have ensured the growing rate is fast translating to increasing profit margins (Ilan 2000, p. 3).

In order for Marks and Spencer Company to achieve internationalization, the firm commenced export of St. Michael brands across overseas. The initial experimental operations began in 1940s. By 1955, the company was earning more than one hundred and forty six thousand dollars from this operation. The presence of domestic factors within the internal environments of the company facilitated the success. Although the operations commenced due to the firm regarding domestic markets as highly saturated, this encouraged implementation of expansion plans across overseas. Consequently, external factors allied to Labor Party prompted nationalization of leading domestic retailers (Ilan 2000, p. 5).As the company was keen in expanding diversification, it adopted internationalization hence, forming international franchising relationships. This enables the company to operate across fourteen economies across developed and developing nations including Philippines and Israel among others (Walsh, Weber & Margolis 2003, p. 862).

Management Developments at Marks and Spencer Company

The company recently engaged in management training in attempts to level out differences among employees in order to provide staffs with learning opportunities. This legitimized differences among the staffs enabling them to actualize their potentials along diverse dimensions (Anthony 1998, p. 1). For example, managers were encouraged to embrace diversity rather than advocating for familiarity through similarity. Employees on the other hand were enrolled to career testing and counseling programs (Ayuso, Rodriguez & Ricart 2006, p. 476).

They received feedback allied to their test results. The tests measured their abilities, personalities, skills, and interests. The diverse university programs they had attended in efforts to continue and pursue further education and gain experience were also evaluated. This determined their abilities to innovate and develop new ideas such as manners to embrace advancing technologies in order to achieve organizational and personal growth. Thus, this helps in evaluating staffs ability to understand and be aware of their opportunities in order to develop their unique and potential skills. This is because increasing self-awareness changes staffs attitudes and behavioral patterns enhancing their effectiveness on personal and professional levels. In order to determine how Marks and Spencer Company achieved these changes, the SWOT and PESTLE theory ought to be applied (Somboon 2001, p. 50)

The SWOT and PESTLE Analysis Theory

This theory is based on business premises using final strategies adopted by a company to achieve internal and external power guaranteeing success. Internal power refers to company’s strengths and weaknesses. Conversely, external power refers to opportunities and threats. Consequently, political, economic, social, technological, legal, and ecological (PESTLE) factors determine or influence how the internal and external powers are sustained in a diverse commercial environment. Marks and Spencer Company therefore had to identify the things it specifically does well as they constitute to firm’s strengths. Conversely, things limiting or impeding the company’s efforts constitute the weaknesses. These things range from organizational, marketing, financial, and personnel features (Danjuma, Audu & Omaku 2014, p. 7).

Internal Powers Allied to Management Changes

Marks and Spencer Company strengths can be identified as follows. Foremost, the firm’s corporate culture described as top-down is effective during decision-making. The centralized process of making decisions and implementing formulated policies achieves command and control. For example, the Marks and Spencer Company is keen, knowledgeable, and experienced in deciding variety of products and services to offer consumers. This decision also includes deciding the products’ designs, sizes, colors, and packaging. Although the top management has to approve these decisions, bottom management has to ensure they are quality and viable allied to company’s goals and objectives (Ilan 2000, p. 10).

It is also effective in determining pricing strategies for the product and services offered and accessed by the loyal consumers visiting the company’s outlets. This process requires boldness as it is a risk taking decision-making procedure. Thus, the management at the Marks and Spencer Company is well versed in making decisions tasked in achieving and sustaining consumer brand loyalty. This explains why the firm uses famous logos and brands in marketing and promoting products and services. For example, Betty Jackson, Paul Smith and Ghost were famous clothing designers used in 1999 to market and promote clothing products distributed across the company’s stores. However, the firm ensured their names were not utilized to promote any departmental stores in order to avoid giving the designers much latitude in designing new and improved clothing merchandise (Ilan 2000, p. 11).

The other strength within the company is that, staffs embrace the ‘we know best’ attitude. This is a positive attitude improving business practices at the firm. For example, the company asserted that only Marks and Spencer credit cards are acceptable across British stores. Although little advertising was employed to pass this message, the number of consumers, buying British textiles increased (Ilan 2000, p. 11). As a result, the company strived to provide consumers with higher quality and nicer services at low and affordable prices providing pleasant shopping experiences. This however led to an increase in consumer expectations. This has led to development of a weakness. The company had to struggle keeping up with the changes. Coupled with changing technologies, the company has often perished in keeping up with pace of changing consumer expectations. Other than this weakness, the company has successfully managed to control and sustain development across British and overseas departmental stores (Ayuso, Rodriguez & Ricart 2006, p. 477).

External Powers Allied to Management Changes

External powers referring to opportunities and threats can also be identified.  Opportunities are identified as follows. Foremost, the company confirmed the domestic markets were saturated. As a result, it had to identify overseas markets it can set up departmental stores. This provided the company with an opportunity to create and improve departmental marketing across overseas. Consequently, the company’s competitive analysis provided an opportunity to develop coherent brand strategies aimed at increasing advertisements and promotions. More so, the company had to develop an improved and balanced sourcing policy to ensure domestic and international outlets review global statistics before streamlining distribution channels (Beverland & Lindgreen 2007, p. 433).

To achieve these opportunities, the company had to diversify and innovate domestic and international expansion plans aimed at enhancing organizational growth. The marketing strategists asserted that, relying on journalism impressions would enhance stock prices. This can further improve company’s cultural distances, as staffs have to improve their languages and experiences to achieve internationalization in an environment facing financial and economic challenges (Ilan 2000, p.9).

Conversely, threats can be identified as follows. Foremost, the company has previously faced a slowdown and economic depression in relation to stock prices. In the past, this slow growth led to the number of staffs being reduced and the firm reorganized to ensure it continues to achieve its goals in providing consumers with high value at affordable prices. For example, the company had to reduce the number of managers by at least fifteen percent. More than three hundred jobs were also reduced at the head office and across departmental stores. The graduate trainee program was also cancelled. More so, offers made to hire new graduate trainees were canceled. This is because the firm lacked sufficient resources to sustain competition, increase inventory, and provide consumers with discounts. As a result, the organization had to re-organize its profit centers into United Kingdom and overseas retails as well as financial services. These were further divided into departmental, regional, small, and street stores to enhance management hence, increase profit margins. These changes therefore prepared the firm to address future financial and economic threats. However, the firm still lacks certainty in case of future economic problems. This threatens its ability to resolve financial crises mainly affecting shareholders and investors as they are bound to affect the firm’s reputation adversely among these parties (Sachs & Ruhli 2005, p. 91).

The changes undertaken at the Marks and Spencer Company were therefore implemented to ensure marketing segments, mixes and promotion strategies rely on the principle of maximizing profits to achieve sustainable development. This is because strong business ethics coupled with balanced operations and functions guarantee success (Burnes 2004, p. 78). Marks and Spencer Company conducted a survey before developing a marketing strategy to guide the firm’s marketing activities. This enabled the company to enhance value through production of uniquely characterized products and services fulfilling consumers’ demands and needs. More so, the company was enabled to make wiser decisions implemented across marketing segments to ascertain production positions to achieve quality, value, and niche. Ultimately, the company applies the four P’s (promotion, products, price, and place) to achieve internationalization of marketing strategies sustaining growth and development. They guarantee the company will grow and expand into a multinational firm able to manage and control its success across diverse economies sustainably (Ilan 2000, p. 9).

Personal Reflection

The changes at Marks and Spencer Company have greatly influenced the successes of the firm. Managerial and marketing strategies have undergone tremendous changes over the years in order to adapt to globalization and modernization. This has further enabled the company to utilize the available financial and human resources in embracing and implementing the changes. This process however requires company directors and supportive staffs to support decisions and policies formulated and implemented guaranteeing success and sustainable development. Focusing on the decisions made by the company and the strategies adopted to implement them, I have gained insights applicable in achieving personal and professional sustainable developments.

Foremost, I have learnt that an entrepreneur who valued diversity and success established the company. He therefore provided the company with an opportunity to achieve a market niche. This further provided the firm with a chance to engage in formulating policies and decisions to achieve sustainable growth and development. As a result, the firm had to define its goals, objectives, and mission within the industry. As an individual seeking to achieve an impeccable career within the entrepreneurial industry, I have to recognize and respect diversity. Thus, I am encouraged to accept and value diversity.

I ought to acknowledge the world comprises of people with different talents, skills, qualifications, and hobbies. I should therefore stop fighting to either dispel or ignore these differences. Instead, I should embrace and utilize them as guiding principles. The principles I formulate should also be allied towards my attempts in achieving personal and professional success in order to acquire sustainable development. Based on the principles guiding Marks and Spencer Company, they should be allied to ethics, values, self determination, motivation and strength as well as identification of opportunities relentlessly. For example, I should learn to seek for guidance and help without feeling either insufficient or incapable. I should also learn to rely on other people’s skills and abilities especially if they promise and guarantee to come through. This is because Michael Marks embraced diversity and the skills as well as abilities a partner would provide the company in order to succeed. He also had faith that bringing in Tom Spencer as a partner would expand his insights as he strived to grow and expand the company. Consequently, trusting, hoping and relying on other people’s skills and qualifications should also be an opportunity to be enhance my planning, organizational and managerial skills.

The principles guiding the Marks and Spencer Company to achieve sustainable development also provide insights to acquire personal growth. This is because they are consistent, ethical, and quality. They seek to create, innovate, monitor, control, manage, expand, and achieve success. As an individual, I aspire being a successful entrepreneur running a large multinational firm just like Marks and Spencer Company. I however fail to accept and embrace diversity.  More so, I have not identified principles I aspire will guide my entrepreneur career. I should therefore develop at least five quality and valued principles allied to my personal and professional career. For example, I should ensure my personal feelings as a consumer play a key role in making decisions and policies determining how consumers visiting my firm ought to be treated.

Currently, I have visited and experienced many departmental stores across the country. Each experience and encounter has been different. Some have been pleasant, bland and others have displeasing. However, it is clear the most pleasant and unpleasant experiences are still vivid. Thus, I should ensure my principles are allied to customer care especially based on first impression. I should also ensure my staffs would be trained on customer care in order to align their interests to company goals, objectives, and mission.

The Marks and Spencer Company has hugely relied on marketing mixes and segments to raise public awareness. This has expanded consumer loyalty translating to greater profit margins crucial in sustaining development. As an individual however, my personality tends to be allied on close circles in order to maintain privacy. I dislike having a large group of friends as it is challenging to determine those reliable and unreliable. This factor has influenced my adverse ability to embrace diversity. However, analyzing and evaluating Marks and Spencer Company has provided the following insights. Foremost, professional growth and development can neither be achieved nor sustained without diversity. More importantly, suitable development cannot be achieved without employing marketing strategies including promotions, campaigns, and advertisement.

These strategies are not employed to gain public attention and awareness on a personal level. Instead, I should focus on the socioeconomic aspects affecting the commercial factors determining the success of a business. However, I should also acknowledge developing and expanding my social circle would enhance my professional and personal skills. On a personal level, I will learn to associate with people from diverse backgrounds across various races, age groups, genders, religious and cultural localities among other differentiating factors. This is bound to improve my social skills especially communication skills. For example, I will enhance self confidence and esteem to relay my ideas, opinions and interests without feeling shy, intimidated, threatened or ignored. Consequently, my professional skills are bound to improve. In the past, I have faced challenges during interviews as I feel intimidated and inferior to the interviewers. I however believe improving my social skills will enhance my professionalism as I will gain courage and motivation to pursue my career goals, objectives, and interests.

Lastly, Marks and Spencer Company has employed and relied on ethics, value, standards, and qualities to achieve and sustain development. The company has been consistent in ensuring these factors guide the firm in spite of the economic, social, cultural, and political changes witnessed in the company. This has encouraged me to be a consistent and persistent person as I pursue to achieve my personal and professional goals. I should neither give up nor relent even during difficulties, instead, I ought to anticipate future challenges, develop viable solutions and implement them correctly at the right time. The Marks and Spencer Company has therefore provide insights to be a courageous, motivated, audacious individual consistently and constantly changing and growing to achieve success and sustainable development.



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