I remember all too well the news from the continent in 2001 that M&S would be shutting its doors to the Champs Elysees and running home to England, tail firmly between its frog’s legs. Oh the shame! Back then, M&S was at a real low point: the now feted lingerie section only catered for tweenies and blue rinses; the shoes were more Hush Puppies than high heels; and the food hall had never set eyes on a California roll.
But oh, how times change… Hot off the press this morning, news that this summer Marks & Spencer will launch an in-store banking service.
Now M&S Money is not new, it’s been around long enough to witness the phoenix-like transformation of the creators of Percy Pig. But a bank? In-store? Well, that’s just breaking all kinds of boundaries. And at a time when let’s face it, banks are having a bit of a hard time and the town centres are witnessing a steady path of destruction as some big names bite the dust, this a significant vote of confidence for the high street stalwart.
Marks and Spencer has worked tirelessly to restore its customer base and bring its products up to scratch. Its PR drive and focus on corporate responsibility have not gone unnoticed and the impact of its star-studded advertising campaigns are paying off. Building trust in a consumer brand is a tough job in itself, but resurrecting a brand from the doldrums of despair is harder. M&S has fought its way back to into the circle of trust and, like the Queen, smoked salmon and earl grey tea, returned to its rightful place in the psyche of the British public. Let’s just hope it doesn’t start taking PR advice from the banks.