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Succession Planning Case Study

Case Title:

Marks and Spencer: The Downfall and Leadership Vacuum

Publication Year : 2004

Authors: G. Saradhi Kumar, Sumit Kumar Chaudhuri

Industry: Retailing


Case Code: SUP0001

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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By the turn of the 21 st century, Marks and Spencer, the iconic British retailer, had become vulnerable to hostile takeovers with its ever-falling share prices and low profit margins. Even as recently as 1997-1998, it was in competition with Wal-Mart to become the most profitable retail chain in the world. However, it witnessed reverse fortune the following year when it announced a 42% decline in its profits and from then on profits kept on downsliding. The inward looking culture of the company and the absence of a strong leadership were blamed for its poor performance.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To discuss the reasons behind the rapid decline of Marks and Spencer that has left it struggling for its existence.

Keywords : Marks and Spencer; British retailers; Retail industry in Britain; Sir Richard Greenbury; Philip Green; Leadership in retail industry; Troubled times at Marks and Spencer; St Michael; Marks and Spencer apparel stores; Managing in Troubled Times Case Study; Marks and Spencer food stores; Floor management in retail stores; Boardroom battles in Marks and Spencer; Decision making process in departmental stores; Conservative culture in retailing; Supply chain management in Marks and Spencer


  • M&S: from a stall to international retailing
  • Daunting tasks
  • Board room battles and lack of common vision

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