Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

M&S cuts suppliers as efficiency measures take hold

Marks & Spencer suppliers are beginning to feel the pinch as its strategy to directly source 60% of its clothing within the next three years takes hold.

Industry sources have told Drapers redundancies have been made, or are about to be made, at two of M&S’s largest suppliers - Dewhirst and Courtaulds - as a result of the chain moving its manufacturing direct to factories.

Drapers understands up to 80 redundancies were made at Dewhirst over the last couple of weeks as a result of M&S outsourcing its manufacturing to Bangladesh.

Industry insiders have also indicated Courtaulds staff have been placed on a 30-day consultancy period, with one source claiming up to 70 jobs could be lost. It is thought The Fielding Group has also been affected.

Dewhirst declined to comment and Courtaulds did not respond to requests for comment.

The move follows the appointment of brothers Mark and Neal Lindsey as sourcing directors for general merchandise at M&S in March, as the company seeks to claw back margins.

The Hong Kong-based brothers were tasked with overseeing M&S’s network of regional sourcing offices around the world to improve its bottom line. Both were previously responsible for the growth of Next Sourcing, which streamlined Next’s supply chain to improve speed and efficiency.

Israeli suiting manufacturer Bagir Group has already fallen foul of the new approach, with M&S cutting orders in May, causing the newly listed company to issue a profit warning. M&S was Bagir’s biggest customer, accounting for more than a third of its revenue.

One Bangladeshi supplier, who works with UK high street retailers, said: “[M&S] is pulling out and it’s starting to hit home. Dewhirst has lost a huge amount of business on formal shirting. The aim is to increase margins and the Lindsey brothers are the ones to do it.”

Another source said there were a few “big losers” but added suppliers had been given ample notice.

“Dewhirst is a big loser in this and [another supplier] The Fielding Group has been hit hard as they were doing a lot of kidswear and uniforms, but that has been taken away now. M&S has been honourable in warning its suppliers about the move in-house, but a lot of them didn’t believe it as M&S has said it before and it didn’t happen.”

One manufacturer who has factories in India said the move in-house was crucial if M&S was to turn around the struggling fashion department, but that a stronger design team was also needed.

She said: “M&S is going direct on its basics for better prices. Cutting out the middle man is fine on basic pieces but on more fashion-forward styles they will really struggle as the design team is not strong enough.”

Another supplier said: “It’s a big deal for suppliers and it costs jobs in Britain. That’s the way the industry has been moving - retailers will buy direct and cut the middle man out as they need to justify how much they are spending on their design departments.”

An M&S spokeswoman said: “In May we shared our plans to move more of our sourcing to a direct model as part of plans to improve margins within our general merchandise business and are working closely with our suppliers to achieve this.”

Readers' comments (9)

  • No surprise there then to see that margin is more important than product. Hope they have allowed a extra few points for all the mark downs on the way when they can not get the product right.
    Shame the suppliers get hit again and again.

    Good Luck.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • M&S doing it all wrong. Again. Have they not learnt anything?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • about time not pleasant for suppliers

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • product quality going worse and worse. nobody cares. M&S always can find a way to mass up anything possibly can be.

    Bangladash sounds familiar? factory building collapse, riot, thousands of innocent lives gone? retailer refuse to donate because they are not producing on THE DAY of collapse(Matalan)?

    well done Capitalism.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • M&S are full of dead people who are still alive.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • About time these ' middle men ' stopped dictating the over inflated prices and allow the value to return to the product .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Natasha Lamb

    M&S seem to struggle with creating a relationship with any of their suppliers, so this doesn't surprise me in the least. It's a shame.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The issue is getting the product right-until they do that by recognising their customers they will shuffle from solution to solution.
    Solve the root problem-celebrate your customer base-don't try to change it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Lots of comments, if only it was that easy. The Lindsey's mmmmmmmm, not everyone's cup of tea but from the early days of Nashville through to Next they have a ton of experience at all levels and have earn't/deserve respect. Don't think that M&S will ever be able to please all of the people all of the time but one thing they can address is margin, on markdown and full price, I've never understood the Dewhirst Courtaulds relationship it is out dated and archaic, so if they are now starting to work directly with factories then of course it makes sense, it's a given on core product, that does not mean to say that there is not room still for the middle man, in fact this is essential on the fashion driven ranges if they are not to become to blinkered. Key is getting this, margin and direct sourcing reliability correct.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.