Marks & Spencer (M&S) is a British institution that has been in business for more than 130 years. However, the multinational retailer’s future and brand image research has been called into question in January following news of chief executive Marc Bollard’s surprise resignation.
M&S experienced a lacklustre Christmas, and the most sceptical analysts believe Mr Bollard’s early exit may be a smokescreen to mask the poor performance during the festive season.
The BBC reported that brand appeal is becoming a problem for the company, particularly its fashion lines. Retail analyst Nick Bubb said M&S has tried to be “all things to all men and women”. As a result, other brands have eaten into its share of the market at the low, middle and upper ends of the spectrum.
“M&S has too high a share of a declining market – offline retailing – and too low a share of the online market,” he added.
Nevertheless, Marketing Week magazine believes the retailer can still turn its fortunes around by tackling problems with its advertising and brand image. Writing for the publication, Thomas Hobbs echoed Mr Bubb’s concerns regarding M&S’s approach to online retail.
A site relaunch in February 2014 was beset by bugs and glitches, which even allowed people to see other customers’ credit card details. While the system is now relatively stable, and the company’s online sales were up 20.9 per cent over Christmas, there remains room for improvement.
Mr Hobbs also highlighted the company’s murky brand identity, with the retailer trying to appeal to both young and middle-aged consumers simultaneously. The lack of a unified marketing campaign between its food and clothing departments could also be having an adverse impact.
Whatever 2016 has in store for M&S, the retailer remains one of the nation’s favourite brands and many loyal customers will be hoping the company can improve on its performance.