The changes are aimed at making it easier to navigate stores and to provide a better backdrop to showcase products. Across its 80 largest stores, M&S will divide its female clothing range into product areas such as knitwear, dress and coats.
There are also new shoe and accessories display areas and ‘welcome zones’ with mannequins highlighting the latest trends and outfit suggestions. Plus, 10,000 staff have been retrained to increase their knowledge of the womenswear range and improve customer service by offering tips to shoppers.
M&S is rolling out the changes to womenswear over the next year. Its two largest stores have been revamped in their entirety, while the top 15 will be updated over the next two weeks. Smaller stores will have elements of the redesign added as appropriate over the course of the next year.
M&S is also looking to update the in-store experience across the rest of its business in the future.
The moves all suggest M&S is looking to take on retailers such as John Lewis that are renowned for their service and in-store experience. The changes are also aimed at reversing a long-term decline in sales of its womenswear, with CEO Marc Bolland under pressure to return this area of the business to growth.
The Autumn Winter collection is pivotal to that and M&S has already launched a marketing campaign that features celebrities such as Dame Helen Mirren and singer Ellie Goulding. These are now on show in-store as well as in the press.
Analysts welcomed the changes. Shore Capital believes that after the changes womenswear is now “very well merchandised” in store and says M&S has come a “long way” in turning around its business.
“M&S has come a long way over the past two years in tough markets and with some self-inflicted wounds. The current A/W offering is key to the improvement of M&S in the medium term and market share stability needs to come through in ladieswear.
“While tip-toeing at times, we believe M&S is nonetheless going in the right direction.”