What’s Next for Marks & Spencer Group Plc (MKS)?

LONDON — Investment guru Phil Fisher used to recommend the “scuttlebutt” approach when researching companies to invest in. Basically, this meant seeking out and asking customers or clients about their view of a company. I tried this approach recently with high-street giant Marks & Spencer Group Plc (LON:MKS).

The positives
The view on M&S food was unanimous: It makes the best food in Britain. The quality and attention to detail that Marks & Spencer brings to the (dining) table is second to none.

Marks and Spencer Group Plc (LON:MKS)The view on M&S men’s formal clothing was also positive. I personally am a real fan of Marks & Spencer suits and formal wear. Again, the quality and attention to detail — basically, the sheer hard work that goes into these clothes — shine through.

A less flattering view
But when we turn to men’s casual wear, and especially women’s clothing, the view was far less flattering. If I try to buy clothes for my wife from M&S, she runs a mile. Now, she is no fashionista, but she likes fashionable, attractive clothing. Her view is that, for women’s clothing, M&S needs to appeal to a broader demographic. At the moment, it seems to be missing out completely on the youth sector.

I think that Marks & Spencer has much to learn from its hugely successful rival Next . Next has a consistent standard throughout its product range: You have an unbeatable combination of quality and breadth in its products.

Can it beat Next?
I buy almost all my furniture and homeware from Next, as the blend of good design and variety of styling is second to none. Next has the best online presence of any of the high-street retailers, with a seamless and effortless experience whether you are buying from your computer or tablet, via the Next Directory, or from a shop.

A good online presence is increasingly important, as more and more sales are made over the Internet. At the moment, Marks & Spencer is losing out to companies like Next, ASOS plc (LON:ASC) and Supergroup PLC (LON:SGP).

Thus my conclusion is that M&S is a decent investment but, for the share price to push on out, the company needs to work on its weak points. If it applied the same hard work and creativity to its furniture, online presence, and women’s clothing as it does to its food offer, it would be unstoppable.

Marks & Spencer, as a steady blue-chip company with a high dividend yield, would be worthy of consideration as an income share for your portfolio. The Fool is always on the lookout for good income investment opportunities, and we think we may have found just what dividend investors are looking for. Please read this free report about “The Motley Fool’s Top Income Stock for 2013.”

The article What’s Next for Marks & Spencer Group? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Prabhat Sakya owns none of the shares mentioned in this article, and neither does The Motley Fool. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Comments
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy

Insider Monkey beat the market by 52 percentage points in 24 months. Our beta is only 1.2 (don't click this link if beating the market isn't important to you).

Lists

The 10 Largest Pharmaceutical Companies In the World

The 10 Most Expensive Android Apps

The 9 Most Expensive Designer Bags in the World

The 7 Most Expensive Real Estate in the World

The 10 Most Expensive eBay Items Ever Sold

The 10 Most Expensive iPhone Apps

The 9 Most Expensive Designer Shoes in the World

The 10 Most Expensive Cigarette Brands

The 10 Most Expensive Law Schools in the US

The 10 Best Wall Street Movies

The 10 Most Expensive Golf Clubs Ever Sold

The 10 Most Expensive Golf Memberships

The 10 Best Disney Characters Ever Created

The 8 Best Foods for Gaining Weight

The 10 Most Expensive Colleges in the World

The 7 Most Memorable Ad Campaigns of All Time

The 7 Most Expensive High Schools in the World

The 10 Electric Vehicles with the Longest Range

The 10 Cities with the Worst Drivers in the World

The 10 Most Expensive Dresses Ever Created

10 Islands to Visit Before You Die

10 Famous Celebrities Who Needed Rehab

The 15 Countries with the Largest Oil Reserves

The 10 Most Overused Excuses in the World

The 5 Best iOS Apps You Can’t Get on Android

5 Companies Damaged By Social Media Blunders

The 10 Most Legendary Blues Songs

The 10 Most Lawless Places in the World

4 Reasons China is a Threat to the US

The 17 Most Sugary Drinks in the World

The 10 Most Ruthless Rulers in History

The 10 Greatest Generals in History

Top 8 Travel Destinations for 2015

The 10 Safest Dog Breeds for Children

The 10 Most Stolen Vehicles in the US

The 7 Most Expensive Celebrity Weddings

The 10 Best LoL Teams in the World

Top 10 Worst Marketing Campaigns Ever Produced

Top 5 Diets that Help You Lose Weight

The 10 Best Ways to Stay Awake

7 Artists That Switched Musical Genres

The 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live in New Jersey

The 10 Best High Schools in New York

The 10 Countries With the Least Gender Inequality

The 6 Biggest Musician-Manager Feuds

The 10 Countries with the Cheapest Gas Prices

The 7 Most Theatrical Bands of All Time

The 8 Worst Band Breakups of All Time

The 10 Most Important South American Leaders

The 7 Most Successful Casting Show Winners

Subscribe

Enter your email:

Delivered by FeedBurner

X

Thanks! An email with instructions is sent to !

Your email already exists in our database. Click here to go to your subscriptions

Insider Monkey returned 47.6% in its first year! Wondering How?

Download a complete edition of our newsletter for free!