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Bolland rolls up sleeves for a tidy-up

Caroline Nodder

Talking point of the week has to be the long-awaited Marks & Spencer results, at which Sir Stuart Rose’s successor, Marc Bolland, had his first big opportunity to show he has stamped his mark on the retail giant.

Talking point of the week has to be the long-awaited Marks & Spencer results, at which Sir Stuart Rose’s successor, Marc Bolland, had his first big opportunity to show he has stamped his mark on the retail giant.

There were two key things that emerged from a lengthy and, by all accounts, quite dry briefing of the gathered press. Details of a rebranding exercise aimed at more clearly defining the clothing sub-brands within the stores and helping shoppers navigate more easily took centre stage, coupled with news that Bolland wants to tailor the product in each individual store more closely to the local market - something that nippier, more manoeuvrable indies do so well already of course.

The former plan makes a great deal of sense; in many cases the sheer size of M&S sites can make finding particular sub-brands difficult in their current form. Through the use of distinctively branded swing tags (detail-oriented Bolland showed examples of these at the results briefing) and signage, the new plan is to segment the stores more clearly to aid the shopping experience.

“Bolland’s plan is to segment the stores more clearly to aid the shopping experience”

The second part of the plan, to make sure the product fits its local market, seemed interesting from the point of view that it is surprising M&S hasn’t been doing this already as some other retailers have. Perhaps the generally larger store sizes in the M&S estate have lessened the pressure to edit what’s on offer in the past, but coupled with easier navigation this relevance in local markets is again likely to improve the shopping experience.

Alongside the recently unveiled images of autumn 11 product, which focus on heritage and more on-trend product, it will be interesting to see how the plans translate into sales.

What Bolland will need to be mindful of is the risk of alienating his loyal customer base while injecting freshness into the collections and re-energising the store design.

Caroline Nodder, Editor-in-chief

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