The roles will see the personal assistants wearing womenswear highlights from the M&S own-label Autograph range. The aim is to promote selected outfits while offering customers additional one-on-one style advice.
Described as a trial by M&S, the new roles will be on a three-month contract and based at the retailer’s Pantheon (Oxford Street), Bluewater, Handforth Dean and Newcastle branches. However, Marketing Week understand that they could be rolled out nationwide if successful in increasing sales of the Autograph brand.
An M&S spokeswoman told Marketing Week: “We are currently recruiting a small number of dedicated womenswear assistants to work specifically within our Autograph brand. We’re trialling this in four stores to give customers additional style advice and outfit guidance within this trend-led brand.”
The new roles appears to be an in-store push to make M&S staff more knowledgeable about fashion trends as M&S boss Marc Bolland tries to reverse the brand’s downward trend in GM.
Bolland previously admitted that M&S’s GM performance was “still not good enough” as it reported like-for-like sales of general merchandising (which is largely clothing) had fallen by 0.4% in the 13 weeks to 27 June.
A job ad for the new roles reads: “The friendly face of Autograph Womenswear, you’ll give our customers a personalised shopping experience to remember as you help them translate the latest trends into key looks and striking outfits.
“Someone who absolutely lives and breathes fashion, you know how to put a ‘wow factor’ outfit together, regardless of dress shape and size. You’re constantly on the lookout for the latest catwalk trends too. And, if you don’t have your own fashion blog, you’ll probably be an avid reader of others.”
The new role would mark the first time in-store assistants have worn outfits while serving customers at M&S. Most staff have to wear regular uniforms although this is relaxed for store managers.
The move to bring in the new stylist roles appears to be the natural next step after M&S recently launched an online personal stylist platform through its new Tuesday website.
Developed by its digital division M&S Venture Lab, Tuesday offers customers access to an internal M&S stylist, who will regularly advise users on clothing suggestions based around their body shape and the season. It already has 1,200 users and is seeing 200% monthly growth.
M&S also has the ‘Style Board’ integrated into its website, which which allows consumers to mix and match clothing items to create unique viral styles such as “Spring Goth.”