M&S mess

I’ve got a dozen new postings rattling around in my head and can’t seem to find time to get them written. But I’m just faffing at the moment, watching a repeat of Frasier, and as this is just a quickie and I should be able to get it bashed out before you can say  ‘Goodnight Seattle’. 

It’s about Marks & Spencer’s. A jolly decent place to shop and we do, frequently. But there’s something about the place that drives me nuts. I love their food hall; I can’t think of anywhere that sells snack-type foods better than this place (sandwiches excepted).  Their Summer of Flavour range has been, well, bloody inspired. And their TV ads are just brilliant. So everything’s great in Mark Spencer’s place? Er no. For people who do great marketing, they are just crap at sales promotional activity. Browsing around their food aisles you’ll come across any number of different offers; 2 for £4 choices and ‘meals in minutes’ 4 for  £6 selections, dine in for £10, meals for two for £15, mix and match choices, fuller for longer meals at 3 for £10  etc etc. But they do it so haphazardly. Take olives. They must have 12 choices of olives; green ones, black ones, some from Italy, some from Greece, some pitted, some stuffed with pimento, some mixed with cheese , others with sun-dried tomatoes. You get the picture. Now you can mix and match all of these on various offers except the bloody one we happen to like – green olives with manchego cheese pieces. Why specifically are these excluded?   It’s bloody discrimination against Spanish cheese, that’s what it is. And it’s bloody annoying. So we end up buying some straight olives and some manchego cheese separately and make our own combo. It’s a faff but exactly the same and probably cheaper. It’s just illogical Captain. And have you ever tried mixing an olive offer with a 3 for 2 deal on the Summer Flavours range? You can’t do it. You see the offers aren’t migratable across aisles and ranges even though the individual items are priced similarly. Why not? They’d sell more stuff. It’s just barmy.

Then yesterday we went in to M&S’s big store at Kew Retail park where I swear they try their hardest to get things wrong presentationally.  There are two or three entrances but if you walk into the main middle entry point you walk into the men’s clothing area. Now I’m a man in my 60’s (yes I know it’s hard to believe from my boyish looks) but even I tend to regard their men’s clothing range as fuddy-duddy and for guys much older than me, like octagenarians. So how do they imagine showcasing their Victor Meldrew range right at the main entrance is going to help attracting people in? Beats me. And it’s not as if they stick their quite nice range of Italian suits upfront. I’m not joking when I tell you the first items are cardies and jumpers that John Craven would be embarrassed to wear. And caps. And those jackets that have a woolly jumper attached underneath with a zipper. And fisherman’s style gillets with lots of pockets in an a macho olive green shade. It’s not the sort of stuff that you see George Clooney wearing is it? Oh I know it’s autumn and the days are getting shorter but I don’t want to be reminded when I step in from the cold that’s it’s getting cold outside do I? And you should see the people browsing this stuff. Bless ’em. The message I get when I walk in is ‘welcome to M&S Kew, God’s waiting room’.

So on we walked, me shaking my head, with our little grandson toddling ahead, attracting lots of coohing from the attractive sales assistants (him not me, of course) when there’s a PA announcement attempting to entice me with the various 3 for 2 and mix and match offers, meals for two selections and so on. Then there’s a lilt in the voice as the announcer says ‘oh and don’t forget if you spend £75 with us today in the food hall, we’ll give you a free bottle of wine’. Yeh but if I just bought a ‘dine in for two’ meal for £10 I get the bottle of wine chucked in already. So where’s the incentive to spend nearly 8 times as much? There isn’t one of course. Bonkers.

Is it just me?



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