Marks & Spencer - 95 Western Road
M&S does well to nod to trends in a way that appeals to its specific customer, with lots of print and patterns on T-shirts, short-sleeved shirts and polos, including checks, florals and paisleys and collegiate sports references. There is a broad offer of basics and its tailoring section is the biggest in Brighton, but a lot of it is very similar.
It is very hit and miss in this store, with sizing generally ranging from small to extra extra large and trousers 32 to 42, which is great for the varied M&S shopper. However, finding these sizes can prove difficult. Some rails are crammed, while others, particularly in the Autograph section, are lacking. One rail features nothing but two extra-large shirts, while another has only two mediums.
Staff don’t approach shoppers but, when asked, do help, though their knowledge of the store layout isn’t great. Although some areas, mostly at the front, are well organised and tidy, others are disordered, empty and in some cases dirty and dusty, which lets the store down and contributes to an unpleasant shopping experience.
Overall M&S strikes a balance between competitive prices and a good level of quality. Chinos are acceptable at £35, a well-made shirt at £27.50 and a water-repellant mac at £45 are all good value. The store also offers an accessible price architecture in its suiting, starting at £85, £105 and £115.
Visual Merchandising 5/10
The store is quite contradictory in its visual merchandising. Some areas, especially at the escalators where customers enter the menswear area, feature great VM, with mannequins, tables and props including oars to complement the nautical theme of the clothing featured. Elsewhere, table-top displays are oddly bare and areas look forgotten about, with one or two products carelessly arranged.