M&S decides on point-of-sale roster

By Jo Francis, Friday 19 January 2018

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St Ives has retained part of its Marks & Spencer point-of-sale work following a contract review, with the retailer opting to switch from a sole supplier arrangement to using multiple print suppliers in future.

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M&S: fabric and point-of-sale work now split

The St Ives Marketing Activation business, which includes SP Group and Service Graphics, had been the sole supplier to M&S since 2005 when St Ives took over the M&S in-plant printing operation in Burnley. It was shut down three years ago.  

Last year M&S ran a tender for its in-store marketing materials encompassing point-of-sale, large-format, and bespoke print with 26 potential suppliers involved in the process. The retailer has 979 stores in the UK.

The outcome of the review is that M&S has decided to change its procurement model, moving away from a sole supplier arrangement.

St Ives has retained the fabric work, while Linney Group has won the contract for other point-of-sale materials. A roster of suppliers, including St Ives and Linney, will be used for bespoke print. The other suppliers on the bespoke roster have not been named.

M&S also works with Inspired Thinking Group for artwork creation and workflow management, and this arrangement is unaffected by the print supplier changes. 

A spokesperson for M&S said: “The change will deliver great value, innovative, high quality marketing materials for our stores. We look forward to working with Linney, continuing our relationship with St Ives and working with a roster of new suppliers.”

Nick Cole, managing director of the £153.7m turnover St Ives Marketing Activation division, said: “We have retained all the fabric work, which is mostly produced at Service Graphics. That’s a growing area and we are delighted to retain it.

“We will lose some volume which is disappointing, but we are pleased that Marks & Spencer remains a significant client.”

Cole said that “a handful” of employees would TUPE across to Linney as a result, and he would be reviewing the knock-on impact of the lost M&S volume at SP Group in Redditch.

“We’re assessing exactly what we will do. We continue to look at internal efficiencies and improvements and will probably remove some costs but that has not been agreed yet,” he said.

“We are winning new business, including two or three large accounts, and assessing the work mix. Marketing Activation has traded well for the first five months of our financial year.”

The new M&S printing arrangements come into effect from the beginning of February, and the duration of the contracts is understood to be three years. The value was not disclosed.

Linney Group had not commented at the time of writing.

St Ives announced a strategic review of its printing operations 10 months ago, and the M&S tender was among a number of significant up-for-review contracts viewed as barriers for potential buyers.

Last month the PLC’s chairman Richard Stillwell said St Ives was not willing to divest the print businesses “at any price”.

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