Market share problems and competition facing Marks & Spencer

Given the recent market share problems and competition facing M&S, what are the two highest risks of embarking on a voluntary program of social responsibility at this time?

Marks & Spencer is a retailer in the United Kingdom that sells a variety of clothing, furnish-
ing, household goods, and food ranges. The business had humble roots. In March 2013 they re-
turned to their roots and opened a stall at Kirkgate Market in Leeds, the same place that Michael 
Marks opened the first Penny Bazaar stall in 1884 (Our Heritage, 2016). Since 1884, Marks & 
Spencer has created a long-established business whose competitors copy their brand image. 
Like every company, they were faced with diminishing sales and consumers but overcame this 
dilemma by differentiating themselves from their competitors by focusing on sustainability. In 
2007, Marks & Spencer came up with ‘Plan A’ which lasted an ambitious five years. ‘Plan A’ 
was aimed at addressing the social and environmental impacts of the retail business and to draw 
customers’ and employees’ attention to policies and opportunities to supper the business in fairer
trading, positive impacts on climate change, and the way the business uses natural resources and 
manages wastes (Richardson, T., 2015). The company became well-known for the companies 
success because of their well-detailed planning and great ideas. 
Marks & Spencer wanted to provide their customers with high-quality products that are 
still affordable to the common family. The company wanted to stay close to the community be-
cause they want to build long-lasting relationships with their customers. “By the 1930s, the 
name Marks and Spencer was synonymous with trust, quality, and significantly, as an employer 
who looked after their employees, going beyond the minimum standards for wages, benefits, and
care (Richarson, T., 2015). Marks & Spencer has explored many risks when embarking on a 
voluntary program of social responsibility. With that being said, I will explain those risks and 
give recommendations for cultivating engagement with the program among employees and the 
local community.
Marks & Spencer knows that risks exist but they need to be managed. Because of this 
company’s size and caliber, they have in place a risk management policy, a system of regular re-
views, and a number of high-level committees tasked with monitoring the risks that the business 
has identified (Wheatley, M., 2012). The risks M&S faces range from food safety to reputational 
risk.  One of the highest risks when embarking on a voluntary program of social responsibility at 
this time is the economy. Marks & Spencer’s ‘A Plan’ revolves around corporate and social re-
responsibility. They have an international presence but only 11% of their revenue comes from 
overseas, the majority of their sales is from the United Kingdom and right now the consumers in 
the United Kingdom are in a difficult situation debating if they can still afford Marks & 
Spencer’s high-quality, upmarket, socially responsible products or buy cheaper stuff of less-as-
sure provenance. The risk is if the conditions of the economy worsen, it will largely impact the
consumers and the ability of M&S to achieve their ‘Plan A’. Consumer spending is the heart of 
the economy. When consumers spend less the economy gets worse, and the government needs to 
start spending to stimulate the economy. The most obvious explanation for subdued spending is 
that consumers are still paying off debts and rebuilding their savings (Tritch, T., 2015).  If this 
occurs, a recession may occur. Marks & Spencer is always reviewing and monitoring the effect-
the liveness of the pricing and promotional strategies across both its general merchandise and food 
businesses, and tailoring its consumer offerings where appropriate (Wheatley, M., 2012). Also 
they are constantly thinking about the consumer’s disposable income and how it is affected by the
economy and the inflation of prices. 
Another risk when embarking on a voluntary program of social responsibility at this time 
is the loss of engagement with its core customers. Marks & Spencer’s demographic is focused
on women aged fifty-five and older. Fashion changes during each season and the risk that 
M&S face is becoming the laughingstock of the industry. As Marks & Spencer notes: “As we seek 
to enhance the M&S brand and make our sub-brands more distinctive, it is important that we 
continue to address our core age 55+ customers’ specific needs in an increasingly competitive 
and economically uncertain market” (Wheatley, M., 2012). It is important to monitor the cus-
timers reactions and experience in the store to get a better insight on what their consumers like 
the most. The fashion industry is highly competitive and those competitors may be able to adapt 
to changes in consumer demand more quickly, devote greater resources to establishing brand 
recognition or adopt more aggressive pricing policies than we can. The fashion industry contains 
a high level of uncertainty.
There are plenty of other risks M&S will face throughout the life of their business but it 
is important to recommend some solutions for cultivating engagement with the program among 
employees and the local community. According to, employee engagement is defined as a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organization to give their best each day, committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being (2016). An engaged employee actually cares about the organization and its goals and will go 
above and beyond the job requirements. For M&S is engage more employees, they want to feel 
rewarded and recognized. An employee that knows there are higher compensations and/or pro-
motions in the future to those who deserve the recognition will be engaged. So a company that wants 
its company to grow, prosper, and have a stronger community at the workplace should recog-
size their employees when they are outperforming their competition. Another recommendation

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