M&S splits ad business as it puts clothing and home up for review

Marks & Spencer is on the hunt for a new agency for its clothing and home division in the latest sign that the retailer is seeking to differentiate its two business units.

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer is splitting its ad business, putting its clothing and home account up for review in the latest sign that the retailer is looking to pursue different strategies for the two sides of its business.

Grey London, which was appointed as lead creative agency across the business in August 2016, will retain the food business. But clothing and home is up for pitch, with M&S currently compiling a long list. It is possible Grey could be on that list, although whether the agency would want to repitch is unclear.

The move comes after M&S separated the company into two businesses on an operations basis last year as it looked to remove a layer of management, increase focus and speed up decision-making. That decision saw former marketing boss Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne depart the business, with Nathan Ansell assuming responsibility for clothing and home marketing, while Sharry Cramond leads food.

“As we transform M&S, our clothing and home, and food businesses have been reshaped to create clear and accountable businesses,” says a spokesperson. “In line with this, we have put our clothing and home creative brief out to tender, as we continue to restore our style credentials and make M&S more relevant, more often to more customers.

“We’re proud of the campaigns we have created with Grey and it remains the retained creative agency for our food business.”

Grey was responsible for M&S’s ‘Spend It Well’ campaign, which launched in May 2017 and aligned the retailer’s food and clothing marketing for the first time. However, that strategy was short-lived, with M&S switching back to separate campaigns over Christmas 2018 – ‘Must-Haves’ for clothing and home, and ‘Discover your M&S’ for food.

READ MORE: M&S ditches blockbuster ads for Holly Willoughby in digital-first Christmas campaign

The decision to split M&S’s ad account comes as the retailer tries to turn around years of stuttering performance, particularly in its clothing and home business. M&S is closing more than 100 stores as it aims to bring a third of its sales online and amid wider struggles on the high street.

In its most recent results, for the 13 weeks to 29 December, both clothing and food sales were down. Like-for-like food sales fell by 2.1% and clothing and home was down 2.4%, resulting in overall group revenue falling 3.9% to £3bn.

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