Marks & Spencer SWOT Analysis / Matrix

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SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that can be used by Marks & Spencer managers to do a situational analysis of the firm . It is an important technique to understand the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Marks & Spencer is facing in its current business environment.

The Marks & Spencer is one of the leading organizatations in its industry. Marks & Spencer maintains its dominant position in market by critically analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis.  SWOT analysis an immensenly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the company such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.

The SWOT Analysis framework helps an organization to identify the internal strategic factors such as -strengths and weaknesses, & external strategic factors such as - opportunities and threats. It leads to a 2X2 matrix – also known as SWOT Matrix.

The Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis / Matrix enables the managers of the Marks & Spencer to develop four types of strategies:

  • SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
  • WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
  • ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
  •  WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
Marks & Spencer swot analysis / matrix

SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective

The main purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a company can utilize to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Marks & Spencer strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.

Step by Step Guide to Marks & Spencer SWOT Analysis

Strengths of Marks & Spencer – Internal Strategic Factors


As one of the leading organizations in its industry, Marks & Spencer has numerous strengths that enable it to thrive in the market place. These strengths not only help it to protect the market share in existing markets but also help in penetrating new markets. Based on Fern Fort University extensive research – some of the strengths of Marks & Spencer are –

  • Strong Free Cash Flow – Marks & Spencer has strong free cash flows that provide resources in the hand of the company to expand into new projects.
  • Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
  • Successful track record of integrating complimentary firms through mergers & acquisition. It has successfully integrated number of technology companies in the past few years to streamline its operations and to build a reliable supply chain.
  • Strong Brand Portfolio – Over the years Marks & Spencer has invested in building a strong brand portfolio. The SWOT analysis of Marks & Spencer just underlines this fact. This brand portfolio can be extremely useful if the organization wants to expand into new product categories.
  • Automation of activities brought consistency of quality to Marks & Spencer products and has enabled the company to scale up and scale down based on the demand conditions in the market.
  • Good Returns on Capital Expenditure – Marks & Spencer is relatively successful at execution of new projects and generated good returns on capital expenditure by building new revenue streams.
  • Highly successful at Go To Market strategies for its products.
  • Superb Performance in New Markets – Marks & Spencer has built expertise at entering new markets and making success of them. The expansion has helped the organization to build new revenue stream and diversify the economic cycle risk in the markets it operates in.


Weakness of Marks & Spencer – Internal Strategic Factors


Weakness are the areas where Marks & Spencer can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a company can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.

  • Need more investment in new technologies. Given the scale of expansion and different geographies the company is planning to expand into, Marks & Spencer needs to put more money in technology to integrate the processes across the board. Right now the investment in technologies is not at par with the vision of the company.
  • Not highly successful at integrating firms with different work culture. As mentioned earlier even though Marks & Spencer is successful at integrating small companies it has its share of failure to merge firms that have different work culture.
  • Financial planning is not done properly and efficiently. The current asset ratio and liquid asset ratios suggest that the company can use the cash more efficiently than what it is doing at present.
  • High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry Marks & Spencer has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
  • The marketing of the products left a lot to be desired. Even though the product is a success in terms of sale but its positioning and unique selling proposition is not clearly defined which can lead to the attacks in this segment from the competitors.
  • The company has not being able to tackle the challenges present by the new entrants in the segment and has lost small market share in the niche categories. Marks & Spencer has to build internal feedback mechanism directly from sales team on ground to counter these challenges.
  • The profitability ratio and Net Contribution % of Marks & Spencer are below the industry average.

Opportunities for Marks & Spencer – External Strategic Factors

  • Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of Marks & Spencer products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
  • The new technology provides an opportunity to Marks & Spencer to practices differentiated pricing strategy in the new market. It will enable the firm to maintain its loyal customers with great service and lure new customers through other value oriented propositions.
  • Decreasing cost of transportation because of lower shipping prices can also bring down the cost of Marks & Spencer’s products thus providing an opportunity to the company - either to boost its profitability or pass on the benefits to the customers to gain market share.
  • Stable free cash flow provides opportunities to invest in adjacent product segments. With more cash in bank the company can invest in new technologies as well as in new products segments. This should open a window of opportunity for Marks & Spencer in other product categories.
  • Opening up of new markets because of government agreement – the adoption of new technology standard and government free trade agreement has provided Marks & Spencer an opportunity to enter a new emerging market.
  • The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Marks & Spencer to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
  • Lower inflation rate – The low inflation rate bring more stability in the market, enable credit at lower interest rate to the customers of Marks & Spencer.
  • Economic uptick and increase in customer spending, after years of recession and slow growth rate in the industry, is an opportunity for Marks & Spencer to capture new customers and increase its market share.

Threats Marks & Spencer Facing - External Strategic Factors

  • Liability laws in different countries are different and Marks & Spencer may be exposed to various liability claims given change in policies in those markets.
  • The company can face lawsuits in various markets given - different laws and continuous fluctuations regarding product standards in those markets.
  • Imitation of the counterfeit and low quality product is also a threat to Marks & Spencer’s product especially in the emerging markets and low income markets.
  • Rising raw material can pose a threat to the Marks & Spencer profitability.
  • Growing strengths of local distributors also presents a threat in some markets as the competition is paying higher margins to the local distributors.
  • Increasing trend toward isolationism in the American economy can lead to similar reaction from other government thus negatively impacting the international sales.
  • As the company is operating in numerous countries it is exposed to currency fluctuations especially given the volatile political climate in number of markets across the world.
  • Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of Marks & Spencer

Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Marks & Spencer

Although the SWOT analysis is widely used as a strategic planning tool, the analysis does have its share of limitations.

  • Certain capabilities or factors of an organization can be both a strength and weakness at the same time. This is one of the major limitations of SWOT analysis . For example changing environmental regulations can be both a threat to company it can also be an opportunity in a sense that it will enable the company to be on a level playing field or at advantage to competitors if it able to develop the products faster than the competitors.
  • SWOT does not show how to achieve a competitive advantage, so it must not be an end in itself.
  • The matrix is only a starting point for a discussion on how proposed strategies could be implemented. It provided an evaluation window but not an implementation plan based on strategic competitiveness of Marks & Spencer
  • SWOT is a static assessment - analysis of status quo with few prospective changes. As circumstances, capabilities, threats, and strategies change, the dynamics of a competitive environment may not be revealed in a single matrix.
  • SWOT analysis may lead the firm to overemphasize a single internal or external factor in formulating strategies. There are interrelationships among the key internal and external factors that SWOT does not reveal that may be important in devising strategies.

Weighted SWOT Analysis of Marks & Spencer

In light of the above mentioned limitations of the SWOT analysis / matrix, corporate managers decided to provide weightage to each internal strength and weakness of the firm. Organizations also assess the likelihood of events taking place in the coming future and how strong their impact could be on company's performance.

This method is called Weighted SWOT analysis. It is better than doing simplistic SWOT analysis because with Weighted SWOT Analysis Marks & Spencer managers can focus on the most critical factors and discount the non-important one. It also solves the long list problem where organizations ends up making a long list but none of the factors deemed too critical.

Limitation of Weighted SWOT analysis of Marks & Spencer

This approach also suffers from one major drawback - it focus on individual importance of factor rather than how they are collectively important and impact the business holistically.

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Example of Weighted SWOT Analysis

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SWOT Worksheet & Template

If you like to do your own SWOT analysis or want to make your own Weighted SWOT SWOT matrix then feel free to download Fern Fort University SWOT Analysis Template.


References / Citations & Bibliography

  • M. E. Porter, Competitive Strategy(New York: Free Press, 1980)
  • A. D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1962)
  • O. E. Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies(New York: Free Press, 1975);
  • L. Wrigley, Divisional Autonomy and Diversification (PhD, Harvard Business School, 1970)
  • R. E. White, Generic Business Strategies, Organizational Context and Performance: An Empirical Investigation, Strategic Management Journal7 (1986)