Marks & Spencer is to introduce mannequins on fashion catwalks and more clearly defined clothing ranges as part of a &£20m revamp of its largest 19 stores.
The refurbishment follows a &£11m overhaul of 100 of its smaller outlets announced last week.
Director of marketing and operations James Benfield, who confirms he is to be replaced by a board-level marketing director within the month, says the large store refurbishment follows a rethink of how M&S merchandises its clothing and home furnishing ranges.
New display equipment will be installed as part of what is called an “American scheme”, which is a method of segmenting customers into different groups and aiming ranges specifically to those groups.
Menswear and ladieswear will be segmented under the new scheme into contemporary and classic categories and through a three-step “formality” scale, ranging from formal to informal and then casual. In-store, mannequins will be placed on display catwalks.
The moves are a radical step for the chain, which has been criticised for its dowdy store decor and poor merchandising following a disastrous year which saw profits cut in half.
Benfield says: “What came out time and again in talking to customers was people needed to feel that ‘there’s something here for me’. They should now find it easier to identify and find where that something is.”
Benfield refuses to comment on his plans after the new marketing director is appointed. The appointee will be the first outsider to be hired to the M&S board in its history.
Benfield says: “There is plenty round here to keep me occupied.”
Divisional director Kim Winser adds: “There is going to be more new equipment in the bigger stores, more retail hotspots.”
The new equipment will include the installation of display units, designed specifically for M&S, which will hold large amounts of product but will use some space for photography and merchandising of ranges.