Once it was thought the management team of M&S could run the country better than the current government. Once it was the brand that all companies aspired to. It stood for British values and was the go to shop for the middle classes. Sadly it has slipped from its pedestal and the brand looks faded, dated and tired.
Can a brand survive decades of change in generations, shopping habits and consumer demand? Very few do and consumer expectations have changed beyond recognition.
The big flagship stores that dictated fashion, style and the direction of the consumer purse have lost their lustre and are fading into the background whilst the internet giants reach out and suck the consumer into their vast caverns with truly global power.
Is there any hope for the traditional supermarkets and brands? Perhaps, but what is certain is that resting on laurels created 100 years ago doesn't work any more. Brands and their values need regular refreshing to stay current and relevant. Innovation is key and listening to the customer is paramount. Otherwise their destiny will also be the great brand graveyard in the sky.
It will not disappear overnight. It remains a relatively profitable retailer and can look forward to many years of continued trade. But M&S will see its sales slump by a few percentage points each year as ageing consumers, who lived their life in M&S jumpers eating St Michael meals, head off to the great supermarket in the sky. It will be a victim not of bad brand management but of the unfortunate reality that no brand will live forever, and some reach the end of their lifetime long before others. Not because of brand management or some major strategic error, but rather because the things that made this brand so wonderful and vital to a young mum in the 1970s make it entirely unattractive to her granddaughter 30 years later.