As much as they are probably thanking the lord that it never happened given what’s happened since, and what an awful person he is to work for, but I always thought Phillip Green had the right idea (at least in terms of what he said) when he tried to buy it and said that M&S needed to become a special place to shop.
All shops are going to need to become the Harrods of their particular niche. They need to go back to the Harry Selfridge idea of stores being a circus of retail, you need to feel like you’re in an exciting awe inspiring place that you will want to stay for some time. All the successful stores have got that. Even someone like Primark have mastered this. It may not be what some of us like to do, but the whole ‘rummaging for a bargain, rooting through the shoot slung all over the place, throwing your unwanted shoot on the floor, is at the and of the day a version of this retail circus, the target customers love all that and get quite excited that they can come out with 4 bagfuls of ‘bargains’ for £6.20. This is entirely what M&S needs.
It needn’t even stop catering for the grannies, they don’t like shopping in dowdy, dirty uninspiring places either. Make the shopping experience a really special, exciting one and people will come in droves. But that costs money, A LOT of money, and I’m not sure a public company will ever get shareholders to agree to that. They’d rather take their ever diminishing dividends than hold off getting anything for 5 years or more and perhaps a load of share dilution when they get a chunk of new cash in, while the company sorts itself out root and branch to save itself.
You can see sadly it’s the next Woolworths as it’s plotted exactly the same path. It’s managed to hang on longer, perhaps as how Kingfisher spun off Woolies and Comet and kept B&Q becoming a DIY group, M&S will eventually sell/close the Marks & Spencer stores and become a supermarket chain under the Foodhall or Simply Food brands or such, but I can’t see it being around much longer as a clothing retailer unless someone with big money takes it private and spends 10 years remoulding it into a modern retailer. Perhaps C&A fancy a return to the UK, or Jeff Bezos will only wear M&S socks and gets them shipped over on pallets and would fancy a punt…