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Profile of Marks & Spencer: Focus on Clothing
published in Issue 117, May-June 2005
Marks & Spencer is the UK’s leading clothing retailer. It has 375 UK stores selling clothing, food and household furnishings. It also has 43 company-owned stores abroad, mainly in the USA and Hong Kong, and 155 franchise stores in various countries. It accounts for almost 10.8% of UK clothing and footwear sales. Its food sales are almost as important as clothing but its share of the UK food market is smaller.
Since the late 1990s its sales and profits have fallen, albeit with some recovery, and it has lost market share. At one time Marks & Spencer was renowned for its steady progress, and for being the UK’s most profitable retailer. But it lost that standing. It gained a reputation for high prices—partly as a result of its policy of sourcing mainly within the UK. The stores became unattractive, the supply chain was inefficient, and the company was complacent. Discount clothing retailers gained ground, supermarkets became a major force in clothing retailing, and smaller chains offered more stylish clothing. Marks & Spencer also withdrew from most of its non-UK company-owned operations.
The company acknowledges many of its problems. It sources 90% of its clothing from outside the UK. Also it is working to improve the supply chain and the stores, and to provide the clothing that its core customers want. One of Marks & Spencer’s strengths lies in lingerie, where it accounts for over a quarter of the UK market. Another lies in selling clothes for over-45 year olds—although sales to the under-35s remain weak. The company’s sales and pre-tax profits, at £8.3 bn and £782 mn respectively in 2003/04, are still substantial. But progress has been patchy during its recovery phase. Clothing sales fell in 2004/05 and the company continues to face stiff competition.
Six times a year, Textile Outlook International provides up to 200 pages of expert comment and analysis. A subscription provides an overview of the global fibre, textile and apparel industries. It is essential reading for senior executives in the fibre, textile and apparel industries – and for anyone who is not involved in the industry, but needs to quickly gain an understanding of the key issues.
Reports in Textile Outlook International include:
country profiles – providing a comprehensive guide to the textile and clothing industries in a range of countries and regions. The reports include an economic and political profile together with a comprehensive overview of the main issues, plus an outlook for the future.
company profiles – giving you the opportunity to learn from strategies employed by others. Companies profiled recently include retailers, manufacturers, innovators and sourcing companies involved in textiles and apparel as well as smaller companies which illustrate the opportunities for firms which are interested in selected sourcing locations.
trends in world textile and apparel trade and production – taking into account current issues facing the industry – such as global fibre prices; competition from China and other low cost countries; the elimination of quotas and imposition of selective new ones; relocation of production operations; the impact of economic factors affecting trade; international trade agreements; trade promotion agreements (TPAs); and much more.
trends in EU and US imports of textiles and clothing – providing comprehensive statistical data and analysis of the top ten supplying countries to the EU and US markets. These reports are updated each year and contain value and volume data as well as average prices and analyses of trends for up to 15 product categories.
innovations, technological developments, business development opportunities, individual sector analysis and political implications which affect players in the global fibre, textile and apparel industries. Some of the topics which have been covered in recent reports include: new innovations in the textile and clothing industry, such as environmentally friendly textiles, plant based fibres, and developments in textile colorants; innovations in textile machinery; and overviews of the European swimwear, hosiery and lingerie markets.
So whether you are involved in fibres, textiles or clothing – in manufacturing, spinning, weaving, knitting, sewing, import/export, retailing – or if you are in education or consultancy or investment or finance, a subscription to Textile Outlook International will tell you what you need to know about the key trends in the industry.
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