Barriers to “industrialisation” for interwar British retailing? The case of Marks & Spencer Ltd.
To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1156088
Research on international differences in retail productivity has highlighted formidable environmental barriers to the ‘industrialisation’ of mass retailing as a driver of declining British interwar productivity growth in this sector (and in services more generally). We examine evidence for such barriers, using a case study of a firm that built its interwar expansion strategy on ‘American’ retail methods – Marks & Spencer (M&S). We find that, rather than facing barriers to the adoption of American mass retail practices, M&S reaped major productivity gains from this process. This adds further evidence to an emerging literature rejecting the barriers to industrialisation thesis for retailing.