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Marks & Spencer

In 2007, Marks & Spencer Plc. a leading UK clothes, food and home products retailer, launched a five-year strategy to “tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our business and out world.” This strategy involves working with customers and suppliers, “to combat climate change, reduce waste… trade ethically and build a healthier nation. To what extent do other retailers need to follow Marks & Spencer Plc.’s strategy?

Marketing strategy is long/medium-term plans, devised at senior management level and designed to achieve the firm’s marketing objectives, Marks & Spencer aim to improve the health of the nation through methods such as providing healthy food, “building a healthier nation” is part of Marks & Spencer’s marketing objectives, which are things they want to achieve through their marketing. Ethics are the moral principles that should underpin decision making, for example, Marks & Spencer decide to use suppliers who source their products ethically. They try to make sure that they recognise all of the interests of all stakeholders in their mission, for example, Marks & Spencer will try to produce their clothes ethically by paying the employees a ‘fair’ wage and offering them decent working conditions, as opposed to many companies such as Primark, who

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force workers to work in squalor to be paid next to nothing.

A Plc. is a public/private limited company, this refers to the ownership structure a business has. Marks & Spencer is a public limited company, this means they have many shareholders, and shares in the company are sold on the stock exchange, in public, so everyone knows about the value and success of the business. Marks & Spencer are a market leader in the UK clothing industry, this is the business which has the majority sales in a certain market, decisions this business makes are likely to be followed, or at least scrutinised by other businesses.

Stakeholders are groups, people and anything else that has an interest in performance the business. Marks & Spencer have many stakeholders, such as, staff, consumers, pressure groups and the government; the government would be interested in the business because they receive tax from the business and may need to regulate the performance of Marks & Spencer. Pressure groups are stakeholders for Marks & Spencer, they look at the way the business is affecting those who cannot speak up for themselves, such as wildlife, if Marks & Spencer wanted to build a new store on Greenbelt land, wildlife pressure groups could protest against this and force the local authorities to make the business build elsewhere.

One reason in favour of why other businesses should follow the Marks & Spencer strategy is that they would become more ethical and this would make the whole market trade more ethically. In addition, there is a trend emerging within consumers that they are starting to care more about how their products are produce; they are beginning to consider whether products or services they consume are ‘fair-trade’ or ‘ethical’. Marks & Spencer would attract a bigger customer base, and therefore a bigger market share, replicating this may improve a business’s market share.

On the other hand, it may not be a good idea to follow this because people who trade unethically currently will have to spend a lot more money than Marks & Spencer on sourcing ethical products, for example, Marks & Spencer have always had a better reputation for respecting ethics than Primark, it would cost Primark more money and time to improve their ethics to the level that Marks & Spencer have.

Budget clothing stores and companies that are not as established as Marks & Spencer, such as Primark or Peacocks will find it harder to become more ethical as they work on small profit margins, becoming ethical would mean their costs are likely to increase, which would take a bigger cut out of their already small profits and maybe bring them down into losses. The fact that the price of budget clothing would go up could cause inflation as there are less cheap goods available, causing cost-push inflation. They will also lose links with cheap suppliers, and this might be seen as unethical because the suppliers would make employees redundant to balance the books.

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