Loss of Made in Britain stock is part of problem at M&S

From: RA Jackson, Goodwell Lea, Brancepeth, Co Durham.

Jayne Dowle’s piece on Marks & Spencer (Yorkshire Post, November 12) certainly hit the spot but I suggest that she omitted one other reason for the fall of this paragon of retailing.

Until relatively recently, M&S always claimed to have a very high percentage of stock made in the UK.

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This is no longer the case and even a review of my own M&S stuff shows an overwhelming degree of offshore manufacturing.

The impact of this has been twofold. Firstly, M&S lost a key unique selling point.

After all, most people are prepared to pay a little more to buy stuff made in this country, knowing it to be high quality and hence creating a brand loyalty.

The problem for M&S is that once we are limited to buying overseas-made goods we might as well shop for them anywhere and the cheaper the better.

Secondly, the removal of the British manufacturing base has thrown thousands out of work. In some areas this has caused a direct boycott of M&S, in others just a simple reluctance to buy from the company.

Overall, it has cost our economy dearly in increased costs for unemployment benefits and lost taxation revenue from earnings.

A Sunday broadsheet ran a story recently noting the gradually increasing return to these shores of manufacturing activities which had previously gone overseas.

A number of reasons were highlighted, not least increasing air transport costs and detrimental effect on the environment.

The most important reason mooted, however, was that the people who worked for sweatshop wages are now pushing for better human rights and a living wage. Consequently, the financial advantages of going overseas are being seriously eroded.

One can only hope that its chief executive Marc Bolland realises that what M&S stood for is as pertinent now as it was when the Penny Bazaar started in Leeds Market and takes action to recapture the USP without further delay.

From: Peter Hyde, Kendale View, Driffield.

I GENUINELY try very hard to buy British made goods so when my wife dictated that I was in need of a new hat, I shopped around.

I thought I had found the right titfer when I visited Marks & Spencer. Picking up a hat of the correct size, small since I am not a big head as some are inclined to say, I looked inside and there found a prominent label proclaiming: “Made from Yorkshire Tweed woven by Moon for Marks & Spencer.”

Great, I thought, and happily paid for it and wore it.

Today, however, I looked inside the hat and on a small label in the back it said: “Made in China”.

Why does a firm like M&S do things like this?