Fashion turnaround helps M&S celebrate Christmas in style | Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer may have looked on the ropes once, but he’s bounced back with his strongest holiday season in recent years.

The 138-year-old chain had the best Christmas ever on food and claimed its highest market share in full-price apparel since 2013 when shoppers who emerged from last year’s lockdown searched for the retailer.

In the food sector, M&S has undoubtedly benefited from the replacement of Waitrose as Ocado’s retail partner. Although its sales via Ocado weren’t included in Thursday’s commercial update, the bond from September 2020 raised the retailer’s profile to a younger audience and helped broaden its appeal.

That deal built on and underpinned an existing effort to attract family shoppers by slashing prices on staples, offering larger packs, and modernizing its food ranges with more vegan and organic products. Sales of milk and cheese, for example, are up 12% this Christmas compared to two years ago.

Head of food, Stuart Machin, also sparked a greater dose of fun by expanding his use of in-house creations like Percy Pig and Colin the Caterpillar, along with new ideas like snow globe gin and shortbread cookie boxes. illuminated, of which more than 1 million were sold in December.

However, the real twist is on fashion. This Christmas, M&S benefited in part from an overall increase in apparel sales, with fewer socialization restrictions this year prompting a national wardrobe refresh.

Sales of M&S bras increased 13% and jeans 12% as shoppers were able to try on items in stores.

Concerns about the environmental impact of fast fashion have also sparked increased interest in M&S, known for its better quality and more durable garments.

“There is a trend for longer lasting products rather than throwaway fashion continues to play for our strength,” said Steve Rowe, CEO.

M&S has also helped itself by improving its online service, having solved serious problems in its main warehouse and strengthening its fashion ranges to offer better and cheaper products, so it is less dependent on discounts.

Online sales are up 50% from two years ago, as M&S was able to leverage the general shift to home ordering with faster deliveries, including using stores to select and ship products to customers for the first time. time this year.

A new sales strategy from other online brands, such as FatFace, White Stuff, and Hobbs, as well as partnering with adjacent brands such as Ghost and Nobody’s Child, is also likely to have attracted more shoppers to the website.

Under the apparel and home garment, Katie Bickerstaffe, the retailer has focused on making her everyday basics, like sleepwear and knitwear, look more affordable and trendy. Sales in these categories increased by 25% and 5% respectively, despite M&S already being responsible for a huge chunk of sweater sales every Christmas.

It has also broadened its appeal, for example, by shifting the focus on children’s clothing to affordable kits that aren’t just for special occasions and introducing the successful Goodmove brand of exercise equipment. Launched just two years ago, Goodmove has grown into M & S’s largest owned label, selling 1.6 million items annually.

“Although clothing and the home were formerly M&S ‘main handicap, it now appears to have turned a turning point in its review,” said Pippa Stephens, a retail analyst at GlobalData.

“In addition to revamping the own-label ranges of clothing to make them more trendy and inspiring, the incorporation of popular third-party brands such as Nobody’s Child and Ghost has also helped to acquire new customers. These more attractive ranges will have enabled M&S to significantly reduce the percentage of discounted products. “

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