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Marks and Spencer?

Hi all:

I remember Emma saying Pret a Manger and Marks and Spencer were good to grab takeout sandwiches and such (thanks!!)... I am also looking in Glasgow which seem to have these as well as in London.

So I get Pret a Manger, but Marks and Spencer is a dept. store? Is it like they have a food area in the basement or something... we have some of that here, like at our Macy's. Do all stores have this?

Thanks!!
Kim

Posted by
4536 posts

Food is possibly the biggest business these days.

Food is generally on the ground floor although occasionally in the basement. There are also 'M&S Simply Food' shops which are what you might expect from the name.

Posted by
8293 posts

Familiarly known as Marks & Sparks. A number of years ago an M & S store opened in Montreal. It didn't last long, not having done their market research, but we all missed the food department when they closed up shop.

Posted by
340 posts

M & S is one place we always hit in Edinburgh for snacks and food gifts - very good shortbread. And love those Percy Pigs!! Last fall when there, I did buy a sweater and blouse that always draw compliments when worn back in the States. Maybe I'll look at the undies this Fall :-)

Posted by
908 posts

Mary & Kim,
Mentioning unmentionables: Truly the largest ladies lingerie section I've ever seen in a "department" store, and I live in a big city. At the Oxford Street location, I think it's one entire floor of underwear! (only slightly kidding). And just about at other locations as well.

Posted by
10 posts

Just got back from the RS Best Of England tour and frequented Marks & Spenser while there. They have a variety of fresh ready made salads too. We enjoyed several over our two weeks.

Posted by
927 posts

M & S also sells wine, beer, and spirits, which is handy when you reach a location and do not know the lay of the shopping land but would like a glass of wine in your room.

Posted by
3547 posts

Norma: Marks and Spencer assumed it could bless the colonial Canadians with its UK merchandising strategies. Management refused to adapt to North American advertising and promotion expectations, even though some of the stores were located in shopping malls instead of city "high streets." There was an expectation that crowds of nostalgic British would welcome the tastes and style from back home. All wrong; the chain had to slink back to the UK, blaming the ungrateful Canadians for its failure. Only the recent wrong-headed Target invasion overshadows this merchandising debacle. More recently M&S withdrew from its venture into France, too. But management changes have produced a much more competitive operation; among other things, M&S has become one of the largest wine merchandisers in Europe. As they say, a nice place to visit.

Posted by
8293 posts

You are absolutely right, southam, about the M&S disastrous venture into Canada. All the clothes were unfashionable and boring. However, old Scottish ladies, Scottish-Canadian that is, could always be seen buying their underpants there.

Posted by
26039 posts

thumbs up for emma - not just any description - an M&S Description

Posted by
628 posts

Lol Nigel.

Shortbread aside... I've never had a decent biscuit from Marks and Sparks, I don't rate their beer either, but am a beer fanatic.

Their salads are outstanding, particularly the Goats Cheese and Lentil one.

For socks and underwear, the only sensible choice.

Posted by
926 posts

OK got it - I will skip the beer, get the goat cheese salad, and pick up some underwear and a cardigan!

Seriously, I think I am going to have to buy some underwear there now. :)

Kim

Posted by
26039 posts

I can remember when I was running around in short trousers having St Michael cotton vests and pants. Only I think somebody left out the cotton and replaced it with steel wool. Of course that was a few decades ago, not long after the war, and it was also the days of waxed pink toilet paper. I don't remember if M&S sold that too.

Things have changed a bit now, and the food is proper pukka.

Posted by
4536 posts

M&S do free shipping to Canada over a certain amount, but not food.

Their non-UK operations historically were a strange mish-mash. The Canadian shops suffered from being too small with a limited range and they could never shake off the image of being old fashioned and stodgy (somewhat like the reputation C&A had in the UK around the same time). Having disposed of nearly all at their low point around the turn of the century they have been re-expanding in recent years with a more consistent modern approach. For example they are back in France and the Netherlands and have 300+ non UK shops.

Posted by
8293 posts

Marco, the M&S store in Montreal was on a busy shopping street downtown and was quite a decent size, about the same size as the one in Winchester in the UK. I believe the one in Toronto was even bigger. Size had little to do with it. The Suits did not know their market.

Posted by
6686 posts

Actually Marks and Spencer has been reopening here the last year and a half or so**, really running back into the market. They now have five Marks and Spencer stores, and six M&S Simply Food shops.

**Corrected -- looking at their website, it's since 2011 that they came back to France.

Posted by
1293 posts

Nigel I believe steel wool underwear is a niche market, but popular in some public school circles.

I think you get those at M&S' reverse shop.. I remember my mother kitting me out in M&S if she could afford it for all but the uniform bits you could not buy there as it was borderline indestructible.

I may have to surrender my passport, I have not shopped there for years. They do not do Nectar points and I treat Waitrose, to my eternal shame, as my new M&S Foodcourt.

Posted by
26039 posts

No shame MC, Waitrose (do they have those north of the Border?) (excellent nosh too) sponsor England Cricket.

Probably support Scotland Cricket if there was one.... (yes I saw the World Cup and that England went out first)

Posted by
1293 posts

Yes, we have a few Waitrose stores, a couple in Glasgow and one in Stirling, some in the capital.

The cricket sponsorship does not seem to hurt them, mainly because Scotland is not that great at cricket, but then again neither is England!

Posted by
4536 posts

Oddly I have walked through the two stores that Norma mentioned plus the one in Ottawa and they were minuscule as I recall compared with the kind of stores M&S were opening at the time in the UK (not necessarily the ones established much earlier). M&S then were as behind the times of retail thinking and customer requirements in the UK as they were in Canada (eg no fitting rooms or credit cards) but could trade on the back of decades of goodwill and habit. This all imploded between about 1998-2002 and they could easily have disappeared off the high street as many store companies did then and in the next decade. Clothing is still a problem on a year to year basis but I guess you have to hit that right.

Retailing is very different in Canada, UK and USA, but there never seems to be a shortage of companies that are successful in one that think they can just do the same in the others.

Posted by
908 posts

They do ship free to the U.S. when you spend £35 or more, I believe. Heads up, though, that it's by DHL so have your order sent to an address where someone can sign for the package. I admit to wearing their opaque tights on the mean streets of DC in the winter. Even with the exchange fee, the price is better than many U.S. companies.