M&S Chairman Archie Norman has expressed his ambition for the company to expand globally, marking a clear departure from its previous retreat from international operations. Under the leadership of Steve Rowe, Stuart Machin, and Katie Bickerstaffe, the UK retail giant has been experiencing a resurgence following years of failed turnaround attempts.

Having witnessed the company’s improving results and rising share price since joining M&S in 2017, Norman was recently crowned the Sunday Times Business Person of the Year for 2023. In an interview, he outlined his vision, saying, “We would like M&S to be here for another 100 years, but to do that, it has ultimately got to become a global brand. I think we see that as the phase after this one.”

While previous international ventures, such as owning Brooks Brothers and a flagship store on Paris’ Champs Elysées, did not yield successful results, Norman emphasized that M&S’s global expansion strategy would not involve simply planting flags in various locations. Instead, the company aims to establish a strong presence in individual markets, drawing inspiration from successful fashion retailers like Zara and H&M, who have effectively maintained consistent brand images while adapting to local markets.

Norman acknowledged that, for the time being, the UK remains the company’s primary focus. However, he believes that M&S has made significant progress in recent years, remarking, “We couldn’t have had this conversation four years ago… but now we are allowed to dream.”

During his tenure at M&S, Norman has shaken up the company, challenging complacency within its ranks. He has fostered a culture of embracing the “unvarnished truth” and acknowledged the importance of not relying solely on past successes. To facilitate the company’s turnaround, he stressed the need to listen to front-line employees and share more information with them.

Furthermore, Norman addressed M&S’s image problem, particularly among younger consumers. He acknowledged that, even if the products were of high quality, many young people would not consider shopping at M&S. As a result, the company has taken steps to tackle this issue.

Lastly, Norman recognized the importance of closing underperforming stores. M&S has already shut down over 60 stores, while strategically opening new ones in carefully selected locations, such as retail parks.

As M&S continues to make progress, Norman envisions a future for the company as a global brand. While the company has faced its fair share of challenges in the past, its recent success and strategic plans hint at a promising future for one of the UK’s most renowned retailers.

For more information on M&S’s aspirations for global expansion and its recent successes, visit the following links:
1. Retail Gazette: Marks and Spencer Chief Archie Norman Sets Out Global Plans
2. The Guardian: Marks & Spencer Aims to Go Global in Search for Growth Outside the UK