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Hit or miss: Marks & Spencer - 20/30

A huge range is undermined by some quality and layout issues in this large store.

Product 7

The vastness of the M&S offer is still a slight issue but it does at least seem a little more coherently planned this autumn. The sub-brands remain but more of an effort has been made to differentiate them. Basics are covered pretty well, with simple knits in a variety of neck styles and colours. Outerwear and suiting run the gamut, but are a tad bland, whereas the tailoring as part of the Collezione range, the store’s strongest, treads the line well between mainstream and interesting.

Value 7

Some pieces such as the Italian wool-rich, fully lined Collezione jackets at £99 and pure cashmere jumpers at £79 represent a real bargain compared with other retailers’ poorer-quality options, but others such as a polyester pea coat for £59 that crumples easily and an uninspiring cotton/ poly Autograph knit for £45 don’t cut the mustard. A basic suit for £69 is very shiny, yet simple jeans at £30 and Oxford shirts at £25 are decent enough. A prominent Sale area detracts a little but is mainly overtly summer stock so is unlikely to cannibalise full-price sales.

Experience 6

The whole frontage is given over to a massive red Sale sign, which is a shame as well as being disproportionately prominent for what is a relatively compact markdown area once in store. This lack of seasonal introduction means key themes are hard to discover at first glance. No staff approach during the visit, despite busily attending the displays. The store does seem configured strangely, as the superior Collezione is hidden behind Autograph while a prominent and attractive Savile Row display’s only purpose is to push just two suits.


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