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

Comments

    Leave a comment

    Close

    Discover even more as a subscriber

    This article is available for subscribers only.

    Sign up now for your access-all-areas pass.

    If you're an existing paid print subscriber find out how to get access here.

    Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to unrivalled coverage of the biggest issues in marketing, alongside practical advice from the digital experts at Econsultancy.

    With a subscription to Marketing Week Premium you will get full access to:

    > World-renowned columnists

    > Analysis & case studies

    > Exclusive leading-edge insight

    > Carefully curated reports & briefings from Econsultancy

    > Plus, much more including a £300 discount for the Festival of Marketing

    Subscribe now

    Got a question?

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

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

    Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to unrivalled coverage of the biggest issues in marketing, alongside practical advice from the digital experts at Econsultancy.

    With a subscription to Marketing Week Premium you will get full access to:

    > World-renowned columnists

    > Analysis & case studies

    > Exclusive leading-edge insight

    > Carefully curated reports & briefings from Econsultancy

    > Plus, much more including a £300 discount for the Festival of Marketing

    Subscribe now