Marks & Spencer (M&S), the largest multinational retailer in UK, was formerly a penny bazaar in Leeds, originated in the late 1880s. It has more than 127 years of history with the reputation of high quality and value for money. However, M&S almost lost its market share overnight in 1998, and its business performance has gradually declined for more than a decade.
Over the last decade, M&S have been struggling to survive by launching waves of product innovation. In the year of 2013, a much-anticipated autumn winter fashion range was launched by M&S, which was the first range from a new fashion team, trying to boost the sluggish clothing business. This article will use SWOT analysis method to evaluate the approach of launching this new product range to deal with the current difficulty.
Situation and Methodology
In the year of 2013, Marks & Spencer announced its sales in this quarter rose by 0.3% in UK, the drop in clothing sales was offset by the rise of food sales. Its food sales has increased by 1.8% in UK market. However, general merchandise (including clothing, footwear, household goods) fell by 1.6%. Meanwhile, the clothing business was experiencing its continuous slides in the eighth quarters.
As M&S has been under the pressure of decline in its clothing sales for more than two years, it increasingly became a worthy concern issue.
For writing this article, it is based on a number of references and videos about Marks & Spencer, then SWOT analysis method is used in this article as well to evaluate the strategy of M&S used in the process of declined sales.
Marc Bolland, chief executive of Marks & Spencer, was under the pressure from shareholders to show a marked improvement with this range after more than two years of declining sales. Thus M&S reorganized the clothing department and retail team and drew up a detailed project, trying to boost the sluggish clothing business.
In May, the team introduced the new clothing range (2013 autumn winter clothing series) and sales strategy pattern, and claimed that it would be formally launched in July 2013. Clothing is the foundation of M&S’ business, especially the womenswear. Thus some analysts said the success of the strategy would depend on the new series later in this year.
Besides, M&S plans to concentrate on improving the fashion and quality element of the new product range instead of increasing the number of stock-keeping units.
The biggest focus on the new launch is its coat range - the sleek, pink rose fifties-style coat and the ultra-elegant faux fur-cuffed will no doubt prove persuasive pieces.(Retail Week, 2013)
Mr Bolland says M&S has improved the quality of the clothes, without increasing the price, which he says will resonate with customers. "Our quality is better than our competitors' already," he said.（Bradshaw, Julia，2013）
With a new clothing team driving the changes, the collection is viewed as key in transforming the retailer's fashion fortunes.
As for the new range of 2013 autumn/winter womenswear,
Improve the image of M&S
Arouse wide public concern
Bring in cash inflow
Cost high and time-consuming in early research
The improvement of people's consumption level
New competitors early autumn warm weather
The new product range launched by Marks & Spencer in May 2013, labeled superior quality and ultra-elegance, was marketed as return to quality and style, which set up the enterprise new image.
As Mr. Bolland said, the new ranges has a higher quality than the similar price product of other stores. Customers may prefer to choose a more comfortable product when they compare the quality between bands.
"Consumer reactions to the product is a lot nicer; a lot more attractive," he said.(Felsted, Andrea,2013) Mr Bolland said consumers had responded well to the new