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Marks & Spencer Company: Effective Specific Innovations Essay

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Updated: Dec 5th, 2020


The use of relevant and valuable strategic initiatives characterizes any management as the body that is interested in promoting a particular enterprise and its growth. To determine how effective specific innovations are, it is possible to apply appropriate assessment tools and techniques that are designed specifically for this purpose. As an object of analysis, the British company Marks & Spencer will be considered.

This clothing and luxury goods retailer is on the list of the London FTSE platform and is a significant participant in both the domestic and global markets. The assessment of specific implementations in recent years will be conducted based on such a mechanism as Porter’s Five Forces strategy, and the parameters of the company’s corporate social responsibility will be analyzed. To identify a strategic initiative, the retailer’s transition to sustainable development will be considered.

As a justification base, topical academic resources will be cited to confirm certain facts. Marks & Spencer is a profitable and recognizable enterprise where the principles of sustainable development are promoted, and the modern practices of providing a high level of services are maintained.

Company’s Short Description

Marks & Spencer is the British brand of clothing, shoes, and accessories for the whole family. The company was founded in 1884 in the UK by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer, and currently, it owns more than 1,300 stores (Wilson 2015, p. 437). For more than 130 years of its existence, the brand has managed to win the recognition and love of the most demanding customers around the world, becoming the symbol of the British quality and sophisticated everyday style. Today, its profit is significant, and the position in the London FTSE list confirms the authority of the company and its growth opportunities.

Nevertheless, the retailer has a positive reputation in the market not only due to its long-term work but also to the consistently high level of services provided with the help of constant control from the management and timely strategic decisions. According to Kennedy, Kapitan, and Soo (2016, p. 126), the brand focuses on “transparency, product innovations, use of external expertise, and engagement with suppliers, customers, and employees”. The managing board of the retailer seeks to make important and necessary decisions aimed at improving the quality of work and the constant search for new strategies that could increase company awareness.

As a result, valuable steps allow Marks & Spencer to stay at the leading positions in the target market and have a consistently high number of consumers. This, in turn, contributes to profit and empowerment, which are the essential aspects of recognition. One of these measures was the transition to the policy of sustainable development, and the success of this step proves a contemporary interest in Marks & Spencer and its products.

Strategic Initiative

The transition to sustainable development has become one of the main and large-scale initiatives promoted by the leadership of Marks & Spencer over the past few years. As Wilson (2015, p. 436) remarks, for the first time, the decision on the implementation of Plan A providing for the reorganization of many operating modes within the network was made in 2007. However, in subsequent years, the company worked much, and several new steps were undertaken. For instance, in 2010, the original plan was revised by the management, and it was decided to complete all reorganization activities by 2015 (Wilson 2015, p. 436).

As a result, the entire project was successful, and Marks & Spencer benefited greatly from such a strategic move. Even though the organization had to attract new resources in a large volume, all investments paid off noticeably. The retailer established partnerships with different communities and sponsors, which became an important component of success. One of the key provisions of the corporation was the transition to an environmentally safe operation mode, and such an initiative was evaluated positively by both customers and other market participants.

One of the main success factors that enabled Marks & Spencer to achieve the ultimate goal of developing its new organizational form of work was an emphasis on the client base. As Kennedy, Kapitan, and Soo (2016, p. 127) state, in 2012, the retailer began to focus on the role of customers as part of its new program and utilized effective techniques. For instance, the authors emphasize that a charity strategy aimed at drawing attention to environmental issues became a powerful argument for the success of the corporation (Kennedy, Kapitan & Soo 2016).

As a result, the management of Marks & Spencer was able to achieve what many other trading companies failed, namely, linking consumer attention with individual growth plans. Therefore, the success of the brand is proof of the competent and efficient policy of transition to an updated working model. To analyze certain stages of Marks & Spencer’s activity in more detail, it is possible to introduce additional tools and techniques and evaluate the brand performance from various standpoints.

Porter’s Five Forces Analysis concerning Marks & Spencer

The evaluation of the effectiveness of transition to the strategy of sustainable development and a new operational model as a whole can be performed by using Porter’s Five Forces technique. According to Kabue and Kilika (2016), the resources of any firm are regarded as a significant factor characterizing the capacity of a particular enterprise and its resistance to the competition. The authors also describe all five the forces – the threat of new participants in a particular sphere, transition to new products and the risks associated with it, consumer power, the degree of supplier participation and competition indicators, and resistance to it among companies in the same industry (Kabue & Kilika 2016).

Through the brief assessment of each of these factors concerning Marks & Spencer, it is possible to determine the effectiveness of the retailer’s management in ensuring stable operations and successful changes implementation.

Regarding the threat of new market participants, the corporation in question is unlikely to experience significant challenges. According to Jones, Comfort, and Hillier (2016), Marks & Spencer is one of the largest British retailers, and the brand’s share of the profits is a strong background to protect the company from losing customer interest. Concerning the transition to new products, the corporation does not have significant freedom since during its work in the market, the organization has established itself as the seller of clothing and luxury home furnishings.

Therefore, if Marks & Spencer changes the course of its production base, it will hardly find approval among customers. In turn, the consumer power of this brand is significantly high. As Wilson (2015, p. 437) argue, it is the “retailer with 12% of the market and the majority of the goods which it sells are own brand”. Consequently, buyers’ interest in the company is consistently high, which provides it with relative freedom and an opportunity to reorganize both product lines and internal working systems.

The number of partnership agreements that Marks & Spencer has is impressive and proves the quality of those sustainable development innovations that the retailer began to promote a few years ago. Wilson (2015, p. 437) states that the corporation “has approximately 2,000 suppliers from around the world”. This figure is so impressive that there can hardly be any doubt about the external support of the company and its stably developed supply chain system. Finally, in terms of competition, Marks & Spencer has some difficulties due to the activities of other major market participants, for instance, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, and others (Jones, Comfort & Hillier 2016).

However, the brand does not lose success, and recent changes helped the retailer to strengthen its position. The role of innovations, in this case, is significant since the reforms have affected both an external trade policy and internal organizational nuances.

Organisational Culture and Corporate Social Responsibility

The organizational culture of Marks & Spencer has undergone significant positive changes due to the initiative for the transition to sustainable development. The ultimate goals and objectives of the company have acquired a more global meaning, and the emphasis on preserving the environment has allowed the corporation to focus on new tasks.

For instance, according to Jones and Comfort (2018), the retailer posted several thematic reports on such topics as the analysis of the brand’s carbon footprint, global assistance with a high level of environmental threats, and other similar themes. Relevant positions appeared in the company, and those responsible for promoting the sustainability program began to develop the plans of interaction with large communities supporting the struggle for environmental safety.

In addition to the aforementioned issues, Marks & Spencer began to show a more active interest in other socially significant problems. Jones and Comfort (2018) remark that the retailer organized a specific program aimed at helping young people who have difficulties with employment. Participation in the life of the population is a valuable step towards customer recognition and the reorganization of strategic policies.

The emphasis on additional areas of work allowed the company to prove its interest in global issues, which, in turn, characterizes it as a market participant who is responsible to society and is ready to assist in those fields that deserve interventions. Therefore, it is possible to determine the level of the organizational culture of Marks & Spencer as stably developing and corresponding with modern standards.

Effectiveness of the Course for Sustainable Development

The transition to sustainable development has become part of the retailer’s global plan to change its course of development and the system of work in the market. According to Bhattacharya and Polman (2017, p. 77), Marks & Spencer’s management concluded timely that it “couldn’t change the world of commodity production on its own”. For this purpose, third-party organizations and communities were brought in as partners, which gave the corporation in question an opportunity to realize its plans successfully and, at the same time, establish a productive system of interaction with consumers.

Also, relevant guidance activities were carried out with the employees of the company. Wilson (2015) notes that the workers of the retailer were encouraged to make every possible effort to reduce energy consumption, thereby minimizing threats to the environment. Interaction with customers was established, and each buyer was allowed to contribute to the improvement of the entire system, offering personal recommendations, and taking part in Marks & Spencer’s environmental programs.

In the end, the retailer’s initiative was justified, and today, the company is one of the leaders of the British market. Such a move towards improvement is due to the timely steps taken by the leaders of the corporation. Market needs and floating demand are those aspects that force large enterprises to reorganize their operations. In the case of Marks & Spencer, all the changes were beneficial, and significant profits were gained from valuable innovations in policy activities.


Marks & Spencer successfully implemented the modern practice of transition to sustainable development as an innovation initiative and was able to set up the course of work that had a positive impact on both external activities and internal organizational culture.

When considering such a theory of strategic management from the standpoint of its results in a particular enterprise, it can be noted that properly coordinated actions aimed at drawing attention to topical problems can help strengthen consumer recognition and, therefore, market positions. The success of the entire transition program is a natural outcome, and further plans for promoting the retailer’s products will most likely include expanding the range of its participation in social issues.

Reference List

Bhattacharya, CB & Polman, P 2017, ‘Sustainability lessons from the front lines’, MIT Sloan Management Review, vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 71-78.

Jones, P, Comfort, D & Hillier, D 2016, ‘Materiality in corporate sustainability reporting within UK retailing’, Journal of Public Affairs, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 81-90.

Jones, P & Comfort, D 2018, ‘Storytelling and corporate social responsibility reporting: a case study commentary on UK food retailers’, Journal of Public Affairs, p. e1834.

Kabue, LW & Kilika, JM 2016, ‘Firm resources, core competencies and sustainable competitive advantage: an integrative theoretical framework’, Journal of management and strategy, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 98-108.

Kennedy, AM, Kapitan, S & Soo, S 2016, ‘Eco-warriors: shifting sustainable retail strategy via authentic retail brand image’, Australasian Marketing Journal (AMJ), vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 125-134.

Wilson, JP 2015, ‘The triple bottom line: undertaking an economic, social, and environmental retail sustainability strategy’, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, vol. 43, no. 4/5, pp. 432-447.

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