Marks & Spencer has continued its remarkable turnaround over the last 12 months and technology is likely to play an increasingly important role in the year ahead. The appointment of IT heavyweight Darrell Stein as IT director at the retailer last year reflects the importance of technology at the store.
It is currently in the process of rolling out RFID to 120 shops across the UK, as it increases the effectiveness of its stock control. Once it has completed the initial rollout it will begin to expand the range of goods that it tags in the stores.
After a two-year development initiative and the creation of an e-commerce function, headed up by John Dixon, Marks & Spencer is about to launch the next phase of its online offering, which it has developed in partnership with Amazon. Along with many leading UK retailers, the store is keen to capitalise on this growing retail channel. CEO Stuart Rose has said the company’s new e-commerce platform is key to future growth. “Online retailing is growing at about 70 per cent a year, and attracts 30,000 customers per week, but it has to do better.”
At last year’s results Rose said that although the store has done well, and begun to regain its confidence, it needed to concentrate on long term growth.
It announced group profits before tax of £745.7 million, up from £505.1m the previous year. “Our key priority remains the revitalisation of our core business, building on the work already in hand… and driving further progress in product, environment and service,” says Rose.
Like many other UK corporations the store has begun to address customers’ environmental concerns. It has launched a five-year, 100-point plan – Plan A – to address the Green agenda, which it says is being driven by its customers. M&S has pledged to spend £200m on becoming fully carbon neutral, ensuring no waste goes to landfill, overhauling its supply chain to limit its environmental impact, enhancing its ethical trading initiatives and educating customers on healthy and green living.
“Our key priority remains the revitalisation of our core business, building on the work already in hand... and driving further progress in product, environment and service”
– Stuart Rose, CEO, Marks & Spencer