The Rise and Fall of Marks & Spencer

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9781861972897: The Rise and Fall of Marks & Spencer
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For decades Marks & Spencer was unassailable. It was the most successful retailer in the world. Its clothes were a byword for affordable quality and its food halls pioneered ready-prepared meals. It cared for its staff, the City loved it - the company was the perfect British success story. But then so suddenly that it took everyone by surprise Britain's best loved chain went down the tube. Customers abandoned the shops...suddenly they were dowdy, the staff deserted in droves and the shares plummeted. Why? What went wrong? Judi Bevan, a seasoned business journalist has watched Marks & Spencer with hawklike vigilance for years, interviewed all the principle players, from suppliers to directors and shows how the success was soured by arrogance. Like a Greek tragedy, this is a classic tale of pride before the fall that everyone can learn from.

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Product Description:

The true story behind the rise and fall of enlightened capitalism. The multi award wining, benchmark of excellence and worlds second biggest company appeared to suffer a catastrophic decline in sales in 1998, with a tale of ambition, treachery and incompetence rocking the boardroom to annihilation. An essential read for both managers and anyone interested. (bus)

Review:

Judi Bevan's The Rise & Fall of Marks & Spencer tells the storyof how the distinctively bright green figurehead of British retail got the blues. From humble beginnings, Marks & Spencer became the UK's leading department store, famous for its ready meals, woolly jumpers and no-frills underwear. However, the British chain suffered a dramatic reversal of fortune starting in the late 1990s, with tumbling profits, poor sales and a series of boardroom bust-ups. Judi Bevan's intelligent and thoughtful analysis of the Marks & Spencer story covers the financial rise and fall of the retailing icon, but it's the personalities and relationships that made Marks & Spencer different. This was the first British retailer to offer staff hot meals at lunchtime and to organise holiday trips abroad for its workers. Yet, M&S also ruled with a rod of iron: staff were expected to be punctual, efficient, polite and--most dangerously of all--to unquestioningly follow orders from above. It's this colonial-style rule that ultimately led Marks & Spencer into disaster and The Rise and Fall carefullydetails each step down the path. While the Gap and Next were making inroads on the British high street, M&S was still in a world ofchauffeur driven managers and carpeted executive offices.

It was evident to journalists visiting Baker Street duringthis time that much of the company still looked longingly backward. Visitors would be escorted along seemingly endless corridors, with their closed doors on either side, by a uniformed female minder who would transport them into the care of the white-gloved waiters on the seventh floor. The atmosphere reeked of imperial Britain.
As the family interest in the company declined, a generation of middle managers fought and back-stabbed their way into the boardroom, not always in the best interests of the company. With more than 50 years of history to cover, it's not surprising that Judi Bevan's tale can occasionally become confusing, but this is morethan made up for by the level of detail: from the controversial cheap home loans offered to directors to the regimented positioning of oranges on the fruit aisles, this is as compelling as business gets. --SallyWhittle

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Judi Bevan
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Bevan, Judi
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