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Top-down control systems had helped them to maintain good performance, particularly through past retail recessions, though there is evidence that these controls were now too rigid in key areas – even ritualistic – but that now important areas like individual store performance were ignored.  The problems of that emerged in 1998 could be seen as a failure of existing systems and their tightening to address the changing market conditions.

Decisions to introduce in-store bakeries, delicatessens and meat counters, overhaul supply chains, buy more from outside the UK and smarten the tattiest stores can all be seen as attempts to change the strategy, but largely within the current paradigm.

The removal of Sir Richard Greenbury and latterly Peter Salsbury, with the introduction of new management from outside the company, headed by the Belgian Luc Vandevelde, perhaps indicates a more radical departure from the past.  The radical revamp of the major stores and the ill-fated national advertising campaign are also symbolic of the changes taking place.  These moves may be seen as an attempt to address the old paradigm within the organisation.

However, at the time of writing these notes (Summer 2001) Marks & Spencer is still in difficulties, with some signs that new approaches are working in places but with many failures and public relations problems as well.  A walk around one of their stores also raises questions about how far the changes have permeated the organisation as a whole – the old paradigm might have been abandoned but a new paradigm is still far from clear.

SAA 3 – Key Stakeholders in Marks & Spencer

Although not all stakeholder groups are mentioned directly in the illustration, Figure 8:4 should allow for some judicious “reading between the lines”.  The key stakeholder groups include:

The senior management team – perhaps there is a good case here to break this down further.  This allows for separate treatment of stakeholders like the former Chairman Sir Richard Greenbury, other long-standing senior managers like Peter Salsbury and the new management team, in part made up of outsiders like Luc Vandevelde, but also including some of the existing team.

Shareholders – again this category might be split further to gain a better understanding of the situation.  The changes at the top have mainly come about as the result of pressure from major shareholders like the pension funds, consisting of fund managers and their teams of professional analysts.  Smaller shareholders, many private individuals traditionally held shares in the company, can exert little direct power, but can decide to sell up their holdings.

Analysts and commentators – acres of print, from the financial and news pages of the newspapers to stockbrokers’ reports have been written on the current position of the company.  These writers may have little direct influence but their thoughts are read by many of the other key stakeholders and so are worth identifying separately.

Employees – have an obvious interest in the future of the company in terms of job security and prospects.  The decision to close Marks & Spencer’s store chains in France and the rest of Europe in 2001 brought protests across The Channel to London.

Suppliers – the decision to radically change their supply chain has affected many of Marks & Spencer’s traditional suppliers – with closures and redundancies hitting the headlines.

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