Blog: Dean BestA penny for your thoughts, Sir Stuart?

Dean Best | 14 May 2009

Often roundly criticised for being too expensive, Marks and Spencer will next week offer consumers selected products for just 1p.

The UK retailer will next week launch a “penny bazaar bonanza” to mark its 125th anniversary and offer 20 products to consumers on a “when it's gone, it's gone” basis.

“Retro” sweets, cufflinks, ties, purses and knickers will be among the products available for 1p at 300 M&S stores in the UK from next Wednesday (20 May).

The fortunes of M&S's food business have suffered amid the economic downturn, with shoppers believing the upmarket retailer does not offer enough value and switching their shopping elsewhere to the likes of Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury's.

Indeed, Sainsbury's boss Justin King said yesterday that M&S (as well as fellow high-end grocer Waitrose) had been a “rich seam” for his company as they have lured consumers with campaigns like “Feed Your Family for a Fiver”.

However, Sir Stuart Rose, the M&S chief, reckons the penny push will give shoppers “a real treat”.

“It’s been a tough year for us all but people are fed up with being fed up,” he said. “M&S started off in life as a Penny Bazaar back in 1884, so what better way to share our birthday with our customers than offering them the chance to choose M&S products for just one penny?”

M&S announces its full-year results next Tuesday. Following a year in which the retailer has seen its food sales suffer, jobs cut and stores close, as well as the likes of Sainsbury's attract M&S shoppers, it will no doubt be worth more than a penny to hear Sir Stuart's thoughts on the future of the business.


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