SWOT analysis of Marks and Spencer (M&S)

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SWOT analysis of Marks and Spencer (M&S)

This detailed SWOT analysis of Marks and Spencer (M&S) aims to examine the strengths and the weaknesses of Marks and Spencer (M&S). It also examines the opportunities the company should explore and the threats it should keep an eye on. M&S is a leading British retailer, headquartered in London.

Strengths of Marks and Spencer (M&S)

Market experience

Marks and Spencer is one of the leading retailers in the UK. It started its journey as a Penny Bazaar at Leeds Kirkgate Market in the UK in 1884 (Marks and Spencer, 2020). It works with a number of big partners in the UK and abroad. This enormous market experience is certainly a great strength of the company.

Brand recognition

Marks and Spencer has a great reputation for the quality of its products. It is a premium supermarket and became the 2nd best in-store supermarket in the UK according to a survey conducted by Which? in October 2017. Which? surveyed 6,800 people to ask them how happy they were with their supermarket, and if they would recommend it to a friend (Which? 2018).

International presence

Marks and Spencer has stores and online presence in a number of countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It has 1,463 stores worldwide out of which 1035 in the UK and the rest abroad. It sells food through 1,035 UK stores. Its own-brand clothing and homeware are sold through 343 full-line stores, outlets and M&S.com website (Marks and Spencer, 2020). This large number of stores, outlets, and the website has helped the company make the business wider.

Weaknesses of Marks and Spencer (M&S)

Sales decline

Marks and Spencer reported a fresh slump in clothing sales in late 2019 due to poor levels of availability in its stores and an out-of-date supply chain (Wood, 2019). It also experienced a disappointing Christmas period in 2017, when sales of both food and clothing fell. This had an enormous impact on the company. In January 2018, it announced its plan to close 14 stores across the UK (BBC, 2018). The factors other than the sales fall that contributed to the closure of these stores are rising business rates and higher staff costs.

Public perception

Many people think that Marks and Spencer does not much cater for teenagers and young people. The company is for older people and not very trendy. This perception has caused a lot of problems for Marks and Spencer. However, it is worth mentioning that although this perception is wrong, it is also true that a lot of Marks and Spencer’s customers are older citizens. According to some analysts click and collect, which is very popular with other retailers, is not very popular with M&S customers as many of them tend to be older and less keen on that option (BBC, 2018).

Opportunities for Marks and Spencer (M&S)

International expansion

Marks and Spencer has already reached some of the biggest countries in the world e.g. Russia, India, & Indonesia. However, exploring expansion opportunities in other big economies (e.g. Brazil & Poland) is worth the effort.

Online opportunities

Marks and Spencer’s online presence is good. However, it is no way near to other big retailers in the UK. There are some good online growth opportunities which the company should pursue. In fact, the company has recently revealed its plan to move a third of clothing and home sales online for a digital-first future (Rigby, 2017).

Threats to Marks and Spencer (M&S)


Marks and Spencer faces some great competitors both in the UK and abroad. For example, Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Next, Gap, Sports Direct, Debenhams, John Lewis and Amazon are some of the biggest competitors of Marks and Spencer. Competition is so fierce that Marks and Spencer faces a big threat of losing its scope in the business. Due to a fierce competition and other factors, the company is scaling down its operations globally. In fact, Marks and Spencer has already pulled out of China, and closed a number of stores in France and the UK.

We hope the article on the ‘SWOT analysis of Marks and Spencer (M&S)’ has been helpful. You may also like reading SWOT analysis of Tesco. Other relevant articles you may be interested in are:

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Last update: 23 January 2020


BBC (2018) Marks and Spencer plans to close up to 14 stores, available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42886154 (Accessed 25 March 2018)

Marks and Spencer (2020) About us, available at: https://corporate.marksandspencer.com/aboutus/our-heritage (Accessed 23 Janaury 2020)

Rigby, C. (2017) M&S closes stores and targets online growth in a digital-first future, available at: http://internetretailing.net/2017/11/ms-closes-stores-targets-online-growth-digital-first-future/ (Accessed 31 March 2018)

Which? (2018) The best and worst supermarkets of 2018, available at https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/02/the-best-and-worst-supermarkets-of-2018/ – Which? (Accessed 31 March 2018)

Wood, Z. (2019) Marks & Spencer profits plunge as clothing sales continue to fall, available at: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019//0/marks-and-spencer-profits-plunge-clothing-sales-fall (accessed 23 January 2020)

Photo credit: Metro

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He is a graduate of Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.