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A Marks and Spencer case study

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Page 2: Suppliers

Marks & Spencer has been selling food for 70 years. The founding principle has been to sell food of outstanding quality offering good value for money. The range of merchandise includes:

  • Fresh Produce
  • Ambient (non-refrigerated merchandise/long-life dry goods)
  • Cold Chain
  • Frozen

Marks And Spencer 2 Image 12In total these amount to many thousands of lines. To support these lines there is a continuous and energetic process of new product development. Each year a large part of the product range is relaunched, upgraded or repackaged. One of the key aspects of Marks & Spencer’s food business is the relationship which the company has developed with its suppliers, covering a range of areas including production and manufacturing techniques, reduction in lead times, resulting in improved quality levels. Marks & Spencer source their ingredients from around the world and to ensure quality and value, work closely with suppliers at each stage of production thereby ensuring hygiene and freshness. This can be exemplified:

  • Vegetables picked in Kenya on a Monday will be on sale in Marks & Spencer by Wednesday, only 48 hours after being picked.
  • Marks & Spencer’s fleet of fishing vessels ensure fish is frozen within six hours of being caught.
  • Marks & Spencer strives for quality, never offering anything other than first quality merchandise for sale.
  • Marks & Spencer works with suppliers to develop technologies which drive quality and availability.
  • The starting point for Marks & Spencer dishes is the very best food from the very best chefs and the best restaurants.
  • Marks & Spencer strive to be innovative in food process development - they found a way of placing meringue onto a mousse without the meringue going soggy!

Marks And Spencer 2 Image 11There are many routes to developing new food products. The starting point occurs when Marks & Spencer selectors provide a brief for suppliers, comprising a range of ideas for research and development. Ideas originate from changing food tastes as evidenced by the increasing number of different types of restaurants from around the world or from food selectors spending time abroad examining alternative cuisine and dishes. Other opportunities are developed having identified local trends, as occurred in Scotland where Marks & Spencer managers and supervisors noted there were products required by Marks & Spencer customers which the company did not offer. Their research led to the development of the ‘Haggis, Neeps (turnip) and Tatties (potato)’, the traditional Burns Supper as a national line. In the north-east of England they offer customers ‘Stottie Sandwiches’ (a savoury filled large bap) and in other areas, they offer food gifts specifically developed for visitors to a region. Recently, the Marks & Spencer food business has grown at a faster rate than its textile business. This growth has reflected changing shopping tastes and trends leading to them altering the balance of merchandise in departmental, town centre and edge of town stores.

Marks and Spencer | Marketing solutions via technology