Monotonous decline has been a prominent feature of Marks & Spencer performance for a considerable period, only occasionally interrupted by a good year – most notably 2008. Now the store closure program is being extended and the company recently registered a substantial decrease in profits. The apparel retailer faces numerous problems needing significant remediation. Catching up with rivals will not be easy – M&S is far behind in key areas such as supply chain technology and selling the brand image. Even if the latest turnaround plan improves company fortunes, chances are any recovery will be slow – that much work needs to be done.
Since Marks & Spencer became the first British retailer to register a pre-tax profit of over £1bn ($1.65bn) in 1998, the company has failed to relive those heady heights of retail success. Instead the apparel and food firm has worked through a plethora of turnaround plans, each of which was billed as the plan needed to finally end years of steady decline, each of which subsequently failing to achieve the business ambitions as determined by the authors. Now another turnaround plan has been pressed into action – only this time a much more aggressive version of what has gone before. Whilst the plan itself remains in the formative stages of implementation, assessing the likely long-term impact is troublesome. Early signs suggest the strategy is the correct option.