M&S chief outlines brand vision

Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland has unveiled a new brand positioning as part of his comprehensive review of the business.

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Bolland’s ambitious plans for the next three years include overhauling its fashion labels, clarifying its food positioning and increasing its home furnishings division and multi-channel operations under the new “Only at M&S” banner.

The news comes as M&S reveals a 17% rise in profit to £348.6m for the six months to 2 October.

UK sales increased 5.6% to £4.6bn and like for like sales, which exclude new stores, increased 4.4%.

Food sales increased 4.1% while general merchandise sales were up 7.2%.

M&S Direct, which includes its online operations, increased 49% during the period.

M&S claims that its autumn advertising campaign brought 1.8m additional customers into its stores and helped deliver strong growth.

Bolland revealed that for the next three years, M&S’s focus would be on its “core UK business – brand, stores and clothing food and home business”.

Clothing

It its clothing business, Bolland plans to “increase the role of the M&S brand” and “clarify the position of its sub-brands” by turning them from clothing labels to “real brands”.

Dedicated brand managers will be introduced for each fashion brand to develop “targeted marketing strategies”.

The Portfolio fashion label will be dissolved into the core M&S clothing brand.

Food

In its food business, M&S plans to establish its position as a “specialist high-quality retailer” focusing on quality and innovation. It also plans to scale back its trial of branded FMCG goods from 400 lines to 100. At the same time it will introduce 100 international lines that will be exclusive to M&S.

Stores

Bolland plans to refresh its store formats and layouts to improve navigation and encourage cross-selling opportunities between its food, clothing and home divisions.

Bolland plans to exit the technology sector to create more space in store for its home furnishings and boost its market share.

The retailer also plans to rebuild its online platform to integrate all its channels.

Bolland says: “M&S had a strong year. We gave our customers better fashions, more choice and great value. The business is in good shape and we have strong foundations on which to build through evolution not revolution.”

Read further analysis of M&S’s brand strategy in this week’s Marketing Week and online.

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