Marks & Spencer is often referred to as the nation’s favourite retailer, a stalwart of the British high street that has clothed and fed families for generations. But M&S has been floundering for almost two decades as its clothing offer fell out of favour and it was usurped by younger, cheaper rivals such as Zara and H&M. The retailer has gone from turnaround plan to turnaround plan since 2000, but time is starting to run out.
In 1998, a reader of Marks & Spencer’s annual report would have had no inkling that it was a retailer teetering on the brink. But it was.
The retailer, led by Sir Richard Greenbury, had reported profits of £1.2bn and become the UK’s most profitable retailer.
However, the bellwether business, which had set new industry standards and launched many brilliant careers, was about to spectacularly fall from grace. And that period of turmoil would last, with the exception of a few moments of respite, until this very day.
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