M&S calls time on Canadian empire

THE CITY heaved a sigh of relief when Marks and Spencer said last week it was finally selling D'Allaird's, its troubled Canadian ladies' wear chain.

M&S's 20-year involvement had long been a tale of woe, exceeding troubles at Brooks Brothers, its yuppie US arm.

During the week, even blunt-spoken chairman Sir Richard Greenbury said: "It would have been difficult to get it more wrong."

In 1974, M&S gave altruistic reasons for its first-ever expansion overseas: "the importance of developing exports in order to help, however modestly, to reduce the country's balance of payments deficit".

Even in 1989, a company magazine, M&S World, admitted that the customer image was of a "British woman expatriate who shops at M&S in recognition of the values she grew up with". This was despite the fact that British emigration to Canada has been declining since the end of the Second World War.

Competitors praised M&S for its quality but claimed that it never quite got the hang of selling in the colonies. "The clothes at D'Allaird's didn't appeal to most women," said the manager of one rival shop in Toronto. Changes, including a recent attempt to attract younger customers, miserably failed.

This weekend, City analysts were still baffled by why it had persevered for so long: "It started before my time but as far as we know it was a consistent disaster, except for a few years in the 1980s," said one analyst after the sale, at a book loss of pounds 15m, to specialty retailer Comark. The division only ever made reasonable profits, of nearly pounds 9m, from 1984 to 1987; otherwise returns were minimal or negative.

Elsewhere, in particular in Asia, the Marks & Spencer shops have succeeded by moving down market while keeping their traditional British image. The company now hopes to do the same in Canada where its remaining stores trade under the M&S name.

Meanwhile in the UK, M&S director Roger Aldridge will announce on BBC's Money Programme tonight that the firm would be prepared to pay an extra tax to improve town centres where it trades to help them compete with out-of-town malls.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicHunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original  manuscripts
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
lifeAiming to show breasts in a non-sexual way for cancer awareness
New Articles
i100... while following the referendum
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
Arts and Entertainment
tvBut something’s not quite right
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week