back to article M&S extends customer support contract with, er, Capita

Despite ditching other tech suppliers in a consolidation push, Marks & Spencer – purveyor of Brit middle-class dreams – has extended a customer support agreement with everyone's fave outsourcing titan, Capita, for £70m. The five-year contract renewal to manage across voice, online and web chat channels …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Any deal with Crapita marks the beginning of the end for a company - this time is M&S! They must be desperate!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    M&S went down the pan years ago ...

    Just that.

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    This isn't just any support contract.

    This is an M&S outsourced to Crapita support contract.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I hope Capita doesn't strip me of my Sparks card 10% beer discount on the grounds that I'm too fit and healthy to be drinking.

  5. Mike Somers

    is it just me that wants to see Capita crash and burn?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      much like Carillion, its the collateral damage that goes unreported..

      But this is the death knell for M&S.


    2. Sam Therapy

      Oh no. I have an admittedly personal stake in that scenario, being a former employee, along with Mrs Therapy.

      Mrs Therapy, btw, successfully sued Crapita for wrongful dismissal. She signed a NDA, but I didn't. I was her rep throughout the proceedings, too. :)

  6. Andrew 60

    I find it staggering that any business would outsource this function at all. This is your point of contact with your customers and a poor experience will turn a customer away. Do they think an outsourced employee will do anything beyond what the script says to help a customer?

    One of the ways M&S try to differentiate themselves from their rivals is with better customer service. If you find yourself outsourcing your core business then what value are you really adding.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Don't forget, they used to make a big deal about 90% of their clothes being British made. It's been downhill ever since they abandoned that one.

      Does make you wonder though - do any senior decision makers ever read a newspaper or is the promise of a good lunch and a round of golf sufficient to make a decision like this?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >Don't forget, they used to make a big deal about 90% of their clothes being British made. It's been downhill ever since they abandoned that one.

        I worked for a former supplier to M&S. In the early 80s it employed ~20,000 in the UK. When I joined in 2000 it was down to about 1,000 in the UK with the rest of the jobs moved out to Asia and Romania. Every year M&S renegotiated the contract to pay less to the supplier until they went bust about 3-4 years after I left in 2001.

        Not many companies I'd wish Crapita on, but M&S could well be one of them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree with you outsourcing core functions is a bad idea, especially when they are touchpoints. However, it is a very attractive proposition for retail management even so. I work for another retail company which has outsourced some customer service functions and kept some in house.

      Call centres have a lot of turnover as many people understandably don't want to stay in the job. Demand on retail call centres is also very seasonal with large peaks around Christmas, Black Friday etc and troughs when sales are lower. Why spend loads of effort on continual recruitment when you can get Capita to do it for you?

      Managing call centre employees needs lots of time consuming micro management such as relentless focus on AHT (average handling time), spotting potential fraud, monitoring customer satisfaction and really granular resource planning. This all distracts management attention from other more strategic issues, but is also pretty specialised.

      Call centres need a lot of space to seat potentially hundreds of people, and this space required fluctuates a lot in line with the seasonal demand. Again, why go through all this hassle of acquiring office space that is half empty most of the year when you can let capita do it for you?

      Of course the big downside as you say is the service will be rarely be as good as you could provide in house with more dedicated employees. We are planning to gradually bring all our support functions in house but having the flexibility and of an outsourced approach has helped us mange the sometimes unpredictable growth of a specific part of our business for now.

  7. 's water music

    Truth in advertising

    M&S=C&A with an on-premise Waitrose concession

    Yup, that's how old I am ----->

    1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      Re: Truth in advertising

      C&A still operates in Europe. There's actually one down the road here from me (and it only opened last year).

      I also wouldn't compare C&A's modern stuff with what they did ten years ago, it's so much better today. However, I think the reverse can probably be said of most of M&S's clothes these days...

      1. Zog_but_not_the_first

        Re: Truth in advertising

        "C&A still operates in Europe. There's actually one down the road here from me (and it only opened last year)."

        Do they still sell Irish knickers?

  8. Zog_but_not_the_first

    It doesn't look good...

    First Paxman declares M&S pants to be, er, pants then they leap into the arms of Crapita.

    Yep, they're going down the pan.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: It doesn't look good...

      I should say that their socks (once their wool socks were very fine if mildly costly items) have also gone pants.

  9. Sam Therapy

    This is not just Crapita... This is M&S Crapita.

  10. System1

    Enter stage right TCS hot in footsteps of Crapita

    Gov howling about lack of value for money associated with outsourcing gov services to Crapita amidst Carillion belly flop. But TCS seems to be snivelling around every Crapita outsourced contract - just taken full M&S IT outsource. Different name same shit!

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