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What Marks & Spencer was doing...

The Marks & Spencer chargecard was a very profitable business line which promoted the cross-selling of FS products to a customer-base of over 5m customers. When M&S Retail decided to accept external credit and debit cards, however, a substantial pressure was put on the chargecard business and prompted M&S Money to re-think its business strategy.

The Marks & Spencer &more credit card was launched in October 2003. The launch involved the upgrade or migration of 2.6 million chargecard customers to the new card and offered the card for new business in stores and through postal applications.This immediately placed Marks & Spencer as the 7th largest credit card issuer in the UK, and constituted the largest ever credit card launch outside of the US.

Linked to the credit card was the &more loyalty proposition. This was the key to success, linking retail spend, retail behaviours and promotion into the financial services product: one without the other would not have been a compelling enough proposition to their customers. This has made Marks & Spencer the only major UK retailer that owns a credit card business which offers unique benefits in terms of management information about its customers' buying patterns both in its stores and across the retail space.

How Bluerock helped...

During an 18 month engagement, Bluerock placed a small number of staff within the Marks & Spencer Cards and Loyalty Programme to project manage key areas of the business and operational change and technology implementation. These included:

    Having overall responsibility for technology - application development and infrastructure (approximately 35,000 man-days effort).

    The development and launch of the Marks & Spencer virtual contact centre across three global locations (in conjunction with a third-party telecommunications provider) operated by different vendors.

    The offshore-outsourced transcription of credit card application forms onto the Marks & Spencer application processing system.

    The bespoke technical development of the Loyalty Points Administration system.

Bluerock also played a key role in both the Credit Risk and Security and Fraud areas. Our consultant, working in close association with Marks & Spencer personnel, developed and introduced the best practise strategies, policies and necessary controls to enable successful Mastercard certification to issue cards.

Bluerock's involvement was integral to both with the timely delivery of key project areas, and also leading and promoting the understanding of Marks & Spencer's overall business goals. This included, for example, the implementation of a new project management methodology across the organisation in order to improve project management rigour and transparency.

Within Marks & Spencer, Bluerock staff operated on two levels, both acting as consultants using their skills and experience to drive through rapid and complex change in delivering the &more proposition, but also acting "as... a permanent employee" [Eddie Nott, Chief Operating Officer] and representing Marks & Spencer's best interests to a number of third party suppliers.

Additional Comments:

"Having previously worked with Bluerock I valued their independence, industry experience and their consulting style."

Stuart Senior
Director of IT and Change at Marks and Spencer plc.


The Technology workstream, led by one of Bluerock's consultants "was one of the areas of greatest change and was delivered on time and to budget, despite huge technical challenges."

Eddie Nott
Chief Operating Officer, Marks & Spencer Money.

"Bluerock has played a key part in a number of different roles within, or linked to, the Marks & Spencer Cards & Loyalty Programme..." and "have contributed significantly to our operational fraud capability, internal security, and credit risk preparedness for the national launch of the &more card."

Mick O'Neil
Collections, Recoveries & Fraud Director, Marks & Spencer Money.

  Bluerock Review - October 2003 (391k)
  Marks & Spencer Money: A case study of Business Change.
  Credit Cards: A Case Study on Marks & Spencer. (368k)
  Migration, upgrading and re-branding.

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