What's wrong with Marks and Spencer?

marks and spencer It is another lousy day for Marks and Spencer as their profits take a battering, dragged down by lousy clothes sales. So bad is the situation, that their boss Marc Bolland and his management team are going to lose their bonuses.

It isn't just clothes sales that are down. Apart from the food, M&S are just being rubbish at everything. Annual profits (to the end of March) were down 3.9%, which is still £623million in the bank, but down from £665.2million at the same time last year.

One backhanded compliment for the company is that shares were slightly up at the London Stock Exchange, mainly because experts thought that the profit fall would have been much, much worse.

To make matters worse for Marks & Sparks, is that their rivals at Next have overtaken them with earnings for the first time. M&S' adverts starring a bunch of people that no-one really recognises or cares about will need a rejig, as will their clothing ranges, which have been tediously dull for a while now.

The biggest bugbear from customers is that there's been a drop in quality, but not a drop in price. It is foolish to think that customers wouldn't notice.

Bolland is bullish though, saying that, after trying to fix holes in the company for 3 years, M&S are showing 'solid progress'. Progress, it seems, means keeping the UK on an even keel while focusing on expansion overseas, in markets like India and China. That'll upset the blue rinse brigade and club house golfers.

How do you cock-up a company with a reputation like Marks & Spencer?


  • Jamie
    "How do you cock-up a company with a reputation like Marks & Spencer?" Easy: they got complacent and expected their customers to come back to their stores regardless of what they put out. The quality of their clothing suffered dramatically, and many of its more mature customers have noted that their clothing is seen as drab and uninspiring (remember, today's older men and women had their heyday in the 1960s). Next has a range which is both more fashionable and cheaper, whilst John Lewis offers better quality items and better customer service than the overworked and underpaid folks at M&S. Everyone agrees that their food is second to none, though. Why not focus more on that?
  • Patrick
    I work next door to a big M&S. I used to buy lunch, socks, work shirts, lunch and miscellaneous other stuff there but they stopped selling the 100% cotton socks I like. The only 100% cotton socks remaining are very thin and expensive (premium Italian blah blah). I emailed their CS people a couple of months back to see if they were planning to restock but they wouldn't check what'd happened unless I could supply the product ID code. I couldn't supply this as I couldn't find them in the shop but I gave them a detailed description. Their CS people were rude and unhelpful in return. As a result I no longer shop there - that's close to £1000 less/year for them.
  • Billybobjimbob
    Maybe Next are making more money because they pay minimum wage whereas M&S actually value their staff. There were protests last week outside Next's Leicester HQ.
  • Nikki
    It's so easy to fix the terrible wrong that is M&S. Just revert to a single British policy - nothing, and I mean nothing - from elsewhere. British exclusivity. And those dodgy (ugly) adverts of self satisfied badly attired diva types? They are so up appealing and the clothing is shocking. They think they are John Lewis but actually they are Primark or Poundland. Tat and more tat, and vastly overpriced at that.
  • Sheila M.
    My sister and I both used to buy a lot in M&S but recently we can't find anything. Their work shirts are too short in the back, they have the same style pleated-front tops they had 5+ years ago, their T-shirts are too thick and short, too much beige, to many fussy trimmings in Per Una and too many sections. I miss the old, better M&S.
  • Fluffer
    The problem is that a) M&S used to do their thing and that thing was better in every way than everywhere else. Now, other stores have caught up and either offer the same stuff at cheaper prices or offer better stuff at the same or more expensive prices but the quality is good so the customers don't mind paying a bit more for it. and b) the quality has plummeted. I have a pair of M&S trousers which I bought 15 years ago. They have washed perfectly every time, have no pilling or wearing away anywhere. I also have another pair of M&S trousers, similar in style bought 18 months ago. They are already wearing thin, have gone bobbly and generally look done. I, like millions of others used to buy my and my partner's underwear from there. Not any longer - it's crap quality, no longer 100% cotton in many cases and doesn't last. Why would I go there when I can get better elsewhere?
  • Jack S.
    Plus, the pockets in the mens trousers are so shallow every time you sit down you lose all your coins. Stingy gits trying to save money on pocket material.

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