October 20, 2007

Operations Management Lesson 2 Exercise


The processes to be compared are the manufacturing of suits between Marks & Spencers (FTSE100 retailer) and Raja Fashions (Hong Kong based bespoke tailor).

Marks & Spencers is a respected clothes & food retailer with over 500 stores in the UK alone, who are well known for the quality of their products and service.

Raja Fashions is a bespoke tailor, who has a team of 10 tailors who travel the world, covering all of the major UK cities, the USA, France, Germany and Japan. They boast providing services to the House of Lords and Downing Street as a demonstration of their quality.


suit4vsFigure  2.1

Raja Fashions

  • Raja's stock about 20,000 fabrics ranging from affordable to exclusive, for clients to select the material they want for their suit. Prices can be as low as £150 up-to many thousands of pounds.
  • The client can then specify any style suit they wish (including Tuxedos, waist coats and neckties to match) and whether they have any specific requirements to modify this. Examples include, the location and number/style of pockets, number of vents and pleats, the material/colour of the suit lining, any personal signatures or logos etc
  • They operate in twenty four city locations across England, and five city locations in the remainder of the UK, producing 1,000 suits to the British market every week [BBC reference].
  • The manufacturing process visibility is low to medium as the product design and measurement, which starts the operations process is conducted between the tailor and the client.

Marks & Spencers

  • M&S develop a new suit range every season, which is targeted as a high quality but low cost product (price range of £99 to £349 based on website prices available October 2007).
  • They provide a relatively small range (variety) of products, which are sold in a wide range of predefined measurements based on their market research and sales experience in what sells well.
  • Their geographical presence across the UK creates a large target audience, coupled with their brand and value strategy provides a relatively stable but high sales volume. Because of the mass scale and relatively low operating costs M&S are operating in a commodity pricing strategy which is also vulnerable to variation in demand, as the purchase can be delayed.
  • The manufacturing process visibility is very low as the products is purchased ready made by clients.


Raja Fashions has adopted two process approaches for their suit manufacturing with jobbing being the choice for meeting with their clients, in city hotels to take the tailor measurements. Once the measurements and design are then sent to their manufacturing operations, a batch process is adopted where by common activities are grouped together and passed through the manufacturing process.

Marks & Spencers also utilise two processes, but for different reasons. The majority of the suit manufacturing is done by mass processes to cut the suit material and undertake some elements of suit stitching. These elements are then passed onto a batch process, where skilled labour provides a hand finish to the suits.


Raja Fashions had adopted two layouts to deliver their service, with a fixed position layout being used where the tailors visit their clients by setting up measuring and design teams in city hotels for their customers to visit them. Once the measurements and design are selected the information is sent to their Hong Kong and China manufacturing teams to develop where a cellular layout is used to produce the suit before shipping.

Marks & Spencers has adopted a product layout, as their suits are manufactured to their standard size configuration and suit style for that season.


Raja Fashions have chosen two process and layout decisions. These decisions clearly reflect their business strategy of providing a quality and personal service, whilst minimising costs to provide value for money. This approach provides a client focused approach at the tailoring stage, with the Raja Fashions team travelling vast distances and incurring high overheads in order for them to service client demand. Then there is an efficient but flexible process in the manufacturing process to enable the client bespoke requirements to be effectively delivered within a standard process.

Mark & Spencers has adopted two process choices but only one layout. This approach supports their strategy as once the operation is setup; little flexibility is needed in changing the manufacturing process so this layout is the most efficient design for this operation. Whilst they utilise high quality material and a hand made finish to ensure a quality product for sales in their store.

I would conclude that both companies are utilising the appropriate models to deliver their business strategy.


  • Marks & Spencers, "About Marks & Spencers > The Company > Our Stores". Marks & Spencers Company Website, http://www.marksandspencer.com, accessed October 2007.
  • Raja Fashions, "About Raja Fashions". Raja Fashions Company Website, http://www.raja-fashions.com/001.html, accessed October 2007.
  • BBC News, 2002, "BBC > News > Business > Hong Kong's travelling tailor". BBC Corporate Website, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2018123.stm, accessed October 2007.
  • Slack, N., Chambers, S., Johnston, R., Betts, A. (2006) Operations and Process Management, London: FT Prentice Hall
  • Walley, P. (2007) The Warwick MBA: Operations Management, Coventry: University of Warwick

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