Marks and Spencer: An Exclusive Look at Their Tech-powered Transformation

Explore Marks & Spencer’s 100-year journey from essential retailer to fashion icon and hear how they’ve embraced sustainability and tech, like AI bra fittings - revolutionizing the industry. From its inception, M&S has evolved beyond merely selling life’s essentials to becoming synonymous with quality and sustainability in clothing.

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Welcome to Third Angle, where we're exploring how technology is reshaping the retail industry.

In this episode, we shine a light on Marks and Spencer, affectionately known as M&S, a retail giant with a rich history dating back over 100 years. Known for its resilience and adaptability, they have continually responded to societal needs. Evolving from a staple on the high street to a leading global retailer focused on fashion, clothing, home, and food. Recently, the team at M&S have been working on building the collection for spring 2025. They've also been leveraging an integrated technology ecosystem, which means designing and developing clothing digitally from planning all the way to market to drive speed and efficiency. This time we have the privilege of meeting Richard Price, Managing Director of Clothing, Home and Beauty at M&S, who gave our producer Hannah Dean an exclusive demonstration of their latest innovations, a sneak peek into their dynamic fabric room, and told us about their commitment to sustainable practices.

About M&S

M&S started life in 1884, when the immigrant Michael Marks came to the north of England and managed to secure a stall at Kirkgate Market in Leeds. Having arrived with little money and limited English, he built his success using the slogan “Don’t ask the price, it’s a ’Penny”. Thanks to this simple idea and his hard work, his stall selling simple homewares was soon thriving. To support his growing business, Michael joined forces with Tom Spencer, a cashier from wholesalers Dewhirst. From this partnership, ‘Marks & Spencer’ and its first Penny Bazaar stores were born and the business we all know today began to take shape.

Exploring M&S: A Retail Giant

M&S are retail leaders when it comes to women’s wear, and it’s an important focus for the company. “M&S obviously has a huge heritage, over 140 years since the Penny Bazaar was first conceived. Women's wear and particularly lingerie within that is a cornerstone of our business and we've always been well known for our bras and knickers, and to this day it remains, you know, probably our biggest market share department. We've got 40 percent market share of the bra market. We've led with women's wear because it is the business unit that does lead in terms of style perception. We used to refer to the CEO of the household, you know, the woman is the center of the decision making and often certainly within M&S is influential in a lot of the men's wear as well. We set out… it was almost four years ago, to really understand what we needed to do to get her engaged and back loving the brand, not just for quality and value, but more from a style perception perspective.”

The Evolution of M&S’s Brand Perception

The M&S clothing brand has gone through a lot of iterations through its 100-year history. “As part of that modern mainstream re-evaluation, we created a campaign called ‘Anything But Ordinary’, simply because we were deemed and perceived by our customers [and] the market really as being a bit ordinary from a trend perspective. We really wanted to put this mantra out that we can surprise, we can be anything but ordinary. And after a couple of years of redeveloping the brand, we took the decision to go out and work with a well-known fashion icon. You know, we spoke to Sienna [Miller]'s team and she was absolutely thrilled to come and join us on that journey. And I think it's important to say that we would never have felt confident to have done that two or three years ago, but we've, we got to a level where we thought, do you know what, because our product now feels like it's strong enough to be associated with somebody of Sienna's iconic status.”

Sustainability Initiatives at M&S

M&S are looking towards the future, focusing on what they can do to make their clothing more sustainable. “From a sustainability perspective, it's what customers expect from the M&S brand, and it's becoming more and more important from both a carbon, and a doing the right thing perspective that we are really leading from a sustainability agenda. All of our cotton is better sourced cotton. We have a target to go to 100 percent recycled polyester for the next year… It’s really at the heart of everything that we do. It’s something that our customers really expect from us. We are currently in the process of implementing new planning systems, new merchandising systems. It's really important now that we've got end to end traceability, and that can only be done through technology, utilizing the technology that both we have and that the factories have, and that the mills have, so that we can make sure that all of our products [sic] is completely traceable.”

FlexPLM: PTC's Solution for Retail Digital Transformation

FlexPLM is the retail industries most widely used product lifecycle management (PLM) software. Brands and retailers in fashion, apparel, footwear, and consumer goods face unprecedented challenges: compressed commercialization cycles, complex global supply chains, and digital-native consumers. FlexPLM is designed to help companies address these requirements in a rapidly evolving marketplace. “FlexPLM isn't just a software solution, it's really a strategic enabler for Marks Spencer's success. By centralizing all their data, enhancing supply chain agility and visibility while we are aligning strategically and fostering this true partnership, Flex really empowers M&S to thrive and grow in this retail environment today that's very dynamic and very fast paced."


Thanks to Bill Brewster for his insight, our guest Richard Price for sharing his expertise on M&S Womenswear and our producer, Hannah Dean for taking us on the tour with her.

Please rate, review and subscribe to our bi-weekly Third Angle episodes wherever you listen to your podcasts and follow PTC on LinkedIn and X for future episodes.

This is an 18Sixty production for PTC. Executive producer is Jacqui Cook. Sound design and editing by Rema Mukena. Location recording by Hannah Dean. And music by Rowan Bishop.

Episode guests

Richard Price, Managing Director of Clothing, Home and Beauty at M&S

More About M&S

Bill Brewster, GM Retail Business Unit at PTC

PTC Retail Solutions