Monday, November 02, 2009

The spark has gone


Walking through M&S this morning I did a double-take at some Nescafe Gold. And then Persil. And then Go Cat. That's right, they've started doing other people's brands alongside their own.

Noooooooo!

The beauty of Marks and Sparks is that real life doesn't creep in. Everything's different, and often of a superior quality. I know that their stuff is made for them by famous manufacturers, but i like it that it's kept a secret. (I once heard Thornton's made the chocolates, which is not necessarily a good thing, but it's better than Anton Berg).

I wonder why they're doing this? Credit crunch? Trying to offer what a supermarket might? It's only selected brands I see, like Marmite and Flora, but still, they stick out a mile with their garish packaging. All those warm dark hues the store is done out with are now ruined. They've come such a long way.

Remember when M&S used to be the home of St Michael, and was all green and grey and hard surfaces and really boring and cold. The food was then only nice bit. Tins of corned beef hash with an orange gingham label. HOT Beef Madras, which wasn't hot at all, and lamb and mint sauce flavour crips, which you couldn't get anywhere else. All good stuff, all a bit of a treat because it was quite pricey.

British Home Stores used to have a food department. But it was no Marks. It was cold shades of grey blue, and I only remember bacon and cheese and the whole shop smelling of rind. The canteen was good for shoppers though. Their shepherds pie was a huge favourite.

So let's not allow M&S to become just another supermarket.

11 comments:

LF Barfe said...

M&S = St Michael.
BHS = Prova.

Ishouldbeworking said...

What a strange decision. Why dilute what appears to be a good formula? Their food was always interesting because it was different. You had Sainsbury's for the boring ordinary stuff.

The first place I ever saw and bought a courgette was M&S, you know. Now THAT was an exciting day.

Who said...

I'm glad it's not just me remembering BHS smelling of cheese - it's one of my strongest memories from the 70's which everybody else refuses to believe...

Five-Centres said...

Oh it did. And not nice cheese either.

A Kitten in a Brandy Glass said...

Ha, I remember the stench of rind in BHS too! I'm sure it persisted for years after the food section had vanished.

Mondo said...

Was it a full-size M&S or an express version FC? I could see why the quick-stop branches would be stock this sort of thing.

We only dipped into M&S when I was a nipper, mainly for the crisps (tomato in a green top bag, beef and onion in brown). It always felt very Margo and Jerry though.

The Southend BHS canteen, was madly low-lit with copper light fittings, but did the most spectacular chips. Mrs M and I went there (before we met)as children, and have both gone giddy at times talking up those chips.

Five-Centres said...

It's the big Camden Town branch, mainly food, but there's an upstairs for kiddies' clothes, so it's important. Perhaps they've got the room so they do it.

Whenever I think of BHS I think of that smell, even to this day.

Bright Ambassador said...

They announced they were going to sell 'premium' food brands quite a while ago as customer research showed a demand for it. Marmite, HP Sauce and Heinz tomato ketchup are the M&S were the brands their shopper's were most keen on them stocking.

Bendick's used to make M&S chocolates back in the 90s, don't know whether they still do. And McVitie's make just about all the supermarkets' own brand biscuits.

Valentine Suicide said...

Wasn't it just that they were losing so much money a few years ago, and their share price had dropped so far they had modernise and compete, or face extinction?

Five-Centres said...

Sadly, that's probably it VS. Another institution as we know it bites the dust then.

Chris Hughes said...

I love that photo - so evocative of boring Saturday afternoons being dragged round the shops, and the old (well, sort of old) NatWest logo.

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