M&S says stores must match ads

Marks & Spencer CEO Marc Bolland has set out plans to overhaul its clothing brands as part of several measures aimed at creating a more customer-focused business.

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The plans are part of his overarching vision for M&S following a six-month review of all areas of the business since he took over as CEO in May.

He aims to address problem areas identified by customers, such as difficult store navigation and a lack of understanding of its clothing sub-brands, which include Per Una, Portfolio and Autograph.

Bolland plans to dissolve the Portfolio label into the core M&S range to get more people interested in the M&S brand.

Brand managers will also be appointed to each fashion brand. The aim is to create “real brands” that have their own “distinctively different brand values”.

Unveiling the plans in London, Bolland says: “Our sub-brands are real assets and they should take on their own brand and lifestyle positioning.”

This will also be translated in our store layouts, which will give each brand more distinct areas that are easier to shop and “look and feel like brand territory”.

Bolland also believes that its stores must match up to its advertising to communicate the right message.

“There’s a job to do to make our fashion as recognisable in store as it is in our adverting.

“We’ve got outstanding quality that is beautifully advertised, but it’s lost in translation between advertising and the stores. What we need to do is translate what we do in our advertising better in our stores.”

M&S stores will also be refreshed to give more space to its home furnishings and to take advantage of cross-selling opportunities between its food, clothing and home ranges.

Bolland has also introduced “Only at M&S”, a brand positioning that will be used to highlight innovative products and services that make M&S “a little bit better or a little bit different from the rest”.

The chain has reported a 17% increase in profit to £348.6m and a 5.6% increase in sales to £4.6bn for the six months to 2 October.

Click here to read Rosie Baker’s viewpoint on Marc Bolland’s strategy

Bolland’s three-year strategy also includes:

Food: M&S plans to focus on quality and innovation, and establish its position as a “specialist high-quality retailer” by differentiating itself from the supermarkets. It will scale back its branded lines and introduce 100 international lines exclusive to M&S.

Multichannel: It plans to rebuild its online platform and integrate all its channels, enabling international expansion.

Home: M&S will no longer sell technology products. This will enable it to make space for a broader home furnishings offering. Home will be developed around three lifestyle strands – Classic, Contemporary and Design.

International: It plans to focus on emerging markets in India and China and put more emphasis on its franchise partners to drive growth.

Investment: M&S plans to invest £850-£900m in UK, international and multi-channel operations in the next three years, and expects a £1.5-£2.5bn sales uplift.

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