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Marks & Spencer Money Insurance and Finance (M&S)

Marks and Spencer Money (M&S)

Marks & Spencer Money was originally called Marks & Spencer Financial Services. It was founded in 1985 as the financial services division of Marks and Spencer Group plc, initially designed to administer the M&S Charge card. It is now a significant player in financial services, offering a wide range of products in the investment, credit, savings and insurance sectors. Growth of the Marks and Spencer money business has been steady across all sectors and the company now employs around 1,500 staff at their award winning headquarters in Chester (UK). In November 2004, Marks & Spencer sold M&S Money to HSBC, one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations with over 9,500 offices in 76 countries and territories. Marks & Spencer Money is now set up as a 50:50 profit sharing partnership between Marks & Spencer and HSBC.

Marks & Spencer Money's mission still remains to deliver the customer a range of financial solutions that are both simple and rewarding and are underpinned by the original core values of Marks & Spencer - Quality, Value, Service, Innovation and Trust.

The &MORE loyalty scheme and credit card is an truly integrated customer proposition from Marks & Spencer, offering a competitive Credit Card, linked to a reward scheme that includes the entire Marks & Spencer business offerings.

Marks and Spencer Money now offer a comprehensive range of Insurance, Loan and Investment products as well as its &More loyalty card.

Marks and Spencer Money's insurance portfolio includes Life, Car, Pet, Travel, Wedding and Home insurance. The Loan offerings includes Car Loans (the 'Car Buying Plan') and Personal Loans with an added payment protection plan, and the Investment services include ISAs, Fixed Rate Savings Accounts and Unit Trusts.
Financial Advice from GroovyFinance.co.uk
Marks and Spencer Money Web site

www6.marksandspencer.com is the primary entry point to the M&S Money web site. It is a bolt on web site to the main Marks and Spencer portal (www.marksandspencer.com). The site has excellent navigation allowing you to jump between departments easily and effectively. It has an intuitive system that remembers the products you last looked at with direct links back to those products, which is very handy indeed. The site is split into 3 main components 'Departments', 'Your M&S' and 'My Account'. The department section allow you to navigate the departments, Your M&S shows the historical activity and interaction you have had with the site and the my account section allows you to access you personal M&S account details.

Buying the financial products is very straight forward and secure. The stages to the process are outlined below:

• M&S Money Life and Mortgage Cover is split into 2 stages the Quote then Application.
The Life Insurance Quote:
Stage 1 - Cover Details (Amount of life insurance cover)
Stage 2 - Personal Details (Weight, Height etc.)
Stage 3 - Additional Details (discount for M&S &MORE customers)
Stage 4 - Quotation Summary (The Quote - Cost per Month)

You then press apply for,

The Life Insurance Application:
Stage 1 - Personal Details
Stage 2 - Health & Occupation
Stage 3 - Doctor's Details
Stage 4 - Medical Questions
Stage 5 - Direct Debit Set-up

• M&S Money Travel Insurance
Stage 1 - Personal Details
Stage 2 - Additional Travelers
Stage 3 - Policy Details
Stage 4 - Policy Options
Stage 5 - Payment Details
Stage 6 - Data Policy

• M&S Motor Insurance
Stage 1 - Get A Quote
Stage 2 - Personal Details
Stage 3 - Vehicle and Cover Details
Stage 4 - The Quote
Stage 5 - Purchase

• Marks and Spencer Pet Insurance
Stage 1 - Get A Quote
Stage 2 - Personal Details
Stage 3 - Vehicle and Cover Details
Stage 4 - The Quote
Stage 5 - Purchase

• Marks & Spencer Money Wedding Insurance
Stage 1 - Personal Details
Stage 2 - Wedding Couple
Stage 3 - Wedding Details
Stage 4 - Cover Details
Stage 5 - Payment Details
Stage 6 - Data Policy

• Marks & Spencer Money House Insurance
Stage 1 - Start Details
Stage 2 - Property Details
Stage 3 - Personal Details
Stage 4 - Other Details
Stage 5 - Cover Details
Stage 6 - Quote Details
Stage 7 - Payment Details
Stage 8 - Confirmation

All in all the site is intuitive informative and easy to use. It was actually quite enjoyable navigating and using the Marks and Spencer Money site we therefore give it a 5 star rating.



Marks & Spencer Company Overview

Founded: Leeds, England (1884)
Headquarters: Flag of United Kingdom London, England
Key people: Michael Marks (Founder), Stuart Rose (Chief Executive)
Industry: Retailer
Products: Clothing, food, household items, coffee shop, furniture, technology, finance
Revenue: £7.798 billion GBP (2006)
Operating income: £0.746 billion GBP (2006)
Net income: £0.521 billion GBP (2006)
Web Site: www.marksandspencer.com

Marks & Spencer plc (often known also as M&S, Marks and Sparks, Marks or Marks's) is a British retailer, with many branches outside of the UK. It is one of the most widely recognised chain stores in the UK as well as being the largest UK clothing retailer and a multi-billion pound food retailer. Most of its shops sell both of these categories. It also has a third line of business selling home wares such as bed linen, but this is far smaller than the other two.

In 1998 M&S became the first British retailer to make a profit before tax of over £1 billion, though a few years later it plunged into a financial crisis which lasted for many years. As of 2007 it is growing again, and rapidly increasing profitability. However it it shade of it's glory days being less than one quarter of the size of the UK's largest and most profitable retailer, Tesco.

Marks & Spencer's History

- The Early years

The very first stall site is now marked with a green and gold commemorative clock in Leeds Kirkgate Market. One of the original Penny Bazaars in the Grainger Market, Newcastle upon Tyne is still open today, and is now the smallest Marks & Spencer store in operation.

The first full Marks store was opened in 1894 at Hulme's Stretford Road, Manchester. Marks entered into a partnership with Thomas Spencer who was working as Dewhirst cashier. Dewhirst went into manufacturing and still remains today the biggest supplier to Mark & Spencer. The official first Marks and Spencer store opened in 1904. When founders Michael Marks (d. December 31, 1907) and Thomas Spencer (d. 1905) passed away, the title of Chairman went to Marks’ son Simon Marks. With his friend Israel Sieff, Marks and Sieff began to grow Marks and Spencer to become a household name. Marks and Spencer became a Limited Company after adopting a revolutionary policy of buying directly from the manufacturers. In 1926 the company then started selling textiles and in 1928 the St Michael Trade Mark was registered. In 1930 Marks & Spencer opened a flagship store at Marble Arch in London. At that time Café Bars were introduced in many of the stores. These provided affordable, clean and nutritious mass catering. This became a valuable resource during the war, making efficient use of limited food. In 1931, a food department was introduced selling canned goods and other produce. By 1956, all goods were sold under the St Michael label. In 1964, Simon Marks died after 56 years' service to the Company, and Israel Sieff took over as Chairman. In 1974, Asian food was introduced to the stores. M&S opened up stores in continental Europe in 1975, then four years later in Ireland. By 1999, Online Shopping was brought in, and the company grew with new sales of fashion clothing...

- 20th century

M&S made it's reputation on a policy of only selling British-made goods. Marks and Sparks entered into long term relationships with British manufacturers, and sold the goods under the "St Michael" brand (registered trademark 1928). The St Michael brand was used for both clothes and food. It also accepted the return of unwanted goods, giving a full cash refund if the receipt was shown, no matter how long ago the product was purchased. Since then M&S has now adopted a 90-day returns policy.

Unlike most of its rivals M&S resisted the lure of television advertising when ITV was launched in 1955, preferring to rely on its reputation to draw in customers. It was not until the mid-1990s that the first TV commercials for M&S clothing were broadcast.

The company put its main emphasis on quality, but for most of it's history, it also had a reputation for offering good value for money. When this reputation began to waver, it encountered serious financial difficulties. Arguably, M&S has historically been an iconic retailer of 'Quality British Goods'. The M&S business model required suppliers to commit to long term contracts solely with them. This approach often led to over-reliance by manufacturers on the trade they did with M&S. Accordingly, when the M&S fashion buyers changed suppliers on some aspects of the company's retail clothing offering, manufacturers were left dangerously exposed — many became insolvent. This has resulted in a change of climate, and no longer is a contract to supply M&S held up as the panacea it once was.

In 1988, the company acquired Brooks Brothers, an American clothing company and Kings Super Markets, a US food chain.

- 1997 onwards

Marks & Spencer's profits peaked in the financial year 1997/1998. At the time it was seen as a ongoing success story, but with hindsight it is considered that during Sir Richard Greenbury's time as head of the company, profit margins were pushed to untenable levels, and the loyalty of Marks and Spencer's customers was badly effected. The rising cost of using British manufactured produce was also a burden, as rival retailers increasingly imported their goods from low-cost countries, but M&S's belated switch to overseas suppliers undermined a core part of it's mantra and overall appeal to the public. Another factor was M&S' refusal to accept any credit cards except their own store card. In addition, M&S as an aging and famously bureaucratic company, was rapidly losing touch with potential younger customers, who were reluctant to shop with them. These factors combined to plunge M&S into a sudden slump, which took the company, its shareholders, who included hundreds of thousands of small investors, and nearly all retail analysts and business journalists, by complete surprise. The company's share price fell by more than two thirds, and it's profits fell from more than a billion pounds in 1997 and 1998 to £145 million in the year ended 31 March 2001.

Since the late 1990s the M&S board had been very unstable and had made a numerous attempts to revive it's business, with only partial success. In 2001, with changes in their business focus such as the introduction of the "Per Una" clothing range designed by George Davies, accompanied by a redesign of their complete business model, profits began to recover and M&S took back some of its market share, but it soon became apparent that there were still problems. Other changes to tradition included Sunday store openings and accepting credit cards.

In 2004, M&S was in the throes of a takeover attempt by Arcadia Group & BHS boss, Philip Green. On July 12 a recovery plan was announced which involved selling off 'Marks & Spencer Financial Services' the financial services business to HSBC Bank plc, buying control of the Per Una range, closing the Gateshead Lifestore and stopping the expansion of its 'Simply Food' line of stores. Philip Green withdrew his takeover bid after failing to get sufficient backing from shareholders. Philip Green's offer to the shareholders in 2004 of £4 a share, has been recently made to look feeble by M&S's current revival. Since June 2005 the share price has almost doubled from 319p a share to a high of 766 in May 2007.

The M&S Chairmen
  • 1884-1907: Michael Marks (set up first stall in Leeds in 1884)
  • 1907-1916: William Chapman
  • 1916-1964: Simon Marks (Lord Marks)
  • 1964-1967: Israel Sieff (Lord Sieff)
  • 1967-1972: Edward Sieff
  • 1972-1984: Marcus Sieff (Lord Sieff)
  • 1984-1991: Derek Rayner (Lord Rayner)
  • 1991-1999: Sir Richard Greenbury
  • 2000-2004: Luc Vandevelde
  • 2004-2006: Paul Myners
  • 2006-present: Lord Burns
When Stuart Rose took charge of the business in 2004 he was appointed as 'Chief Executive but not Chairman.

Paul Myners was appointed Chairman in 2004: he has finished his reign at the last AGM in July 2006, to be replaced by Lord Burns, a prominent figure in the City and a former permanent secretary to the Treasury.
 

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