Marks & Spencer. Two steps forward but one step back ethically.

sliding_down_corporate_ladder_500_wht_7258I was impressed by the steps Marks & Spencer (M&S) was making in reducing the number of infected chickens in our supermarkets.

And M&S seemed to be the only company taking a stand against stocking John West tuna on ethical grounds.

So far so good.

Then I read that M&S were refusing to cut the prices of their goods in hospital shops. You might recall that M&S and WH Smith had all been accused of profiteering by inflating prices on hospital sites where they had a captive consumer group. Gift cards, flowers, and snacks were all priced higher than on the high street.

The companies blamed higher operating costs (a bit like petrol on motorways then?). As a result W H Smith promised to review prices to ensure that hospital customers were not overcharged. So good on them.

M&S however, despite meeting with labour MP Paula Sherriff, who has led a campaign against these higher charges, insists it is the fault of the NHS for charging high rents. Sherriff says “Patients feel like they’re getting their pockets picked to prop up the profits of one of Britain’s biggest brands. The biggest premium os on flowers and that’s just wrong – there will be people in desperate circumstances who want to look after loved ones and these shops are making a quick buck. You have to ask what’s happened to the values behind this brand

M&S says “Prices can be higher in these locations due to increased running costs such as longer opening hours and higher rents”

Now I struggle to believe that renting a corner of a hospital is dearer than renting on the high street but what do I know. And why would longer opening hours be more expensive as long as they are selling stuff and have shift patterns in place to avoid overtime (which I doubt they pay anyway).

So shame on you M&S.


Britain flies the flag in Copenhagen

In the airport to be precise. Walking round during a 5 hour wait for a connection I couldn’t help noticing a number of W H Smith shops and Dixons. The prize must go to Hamley’s toy shop however which provided a life-size cuddly bear and its Danish minder to amuse the passengers especially the children who queued up to be photographed with them.P1010346