The Marks of failure are all too obvious…

I think we are all perhaps missing the real tragedy that is Marks & Spencer.

I think we are all perhaps missing the real tragedy that is Marks & Spencer.

The two great pioneers of M&S – Simon Marks, who became chairman in 1916; and Israel Sieff, who took over in 1964 – pioneered a revolution in retail thinking and practice based on quality, reliability, value and trust. What is common practice today was quite revolutionary at that time.

The opportunity existed, then, for their successors to build a truly unique global brand based on these values and the company’s growing worldwide reputation. Yet all they did was to make some half-hearted attempts to get into western Europe and a totally bungled assault on the US market.

Just contrast this with truly great companies such as Sony, Wal-Mart, IBM, McDonald’s etc. Their founders also had a vision, but they had the drive and imagination to realise people all over the world would buy into it.

The difference between Tesco and M&S is not just that the latter temporarily lost touch with its customers: it is much more basic than that. Tesco realises that you simply cannot thrive by competing only in this green and pleasant land. The world has shrunk, and the great companies are those that have spread their wings and taken their trading philosophy far and wide.

How sad it is that today’s M&S management has to concentrate its efforts on the micro-task of attracting more middle-aged British women into its UK stores, whereas Wal-Mart – whose philosophy is an offshoot of Marks’ and Sieff’s – has the biggest turnover of any company in the world.

Should Philip Green’s bid have succeeded? The tragedy is that he did not make it 20 years ago!

Mike Detsiny

Director

PI3

London W11

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here