All eyes have been firmly placed on Marks & Spencer this week as the retailer unveiled its interim results, but can the retailer’s revamped Westfield London residence open the door to rising sales?
Group sales were up by 1% to £4.9bn, underlying profit before tax increased by 2.3% to £268m and EBITDA for the half was up £37.7m to £578.8m. So far, so good.
However the all-important fashion sales at M&S are still failing to impress. For the second quarter clothing sales dropped by 3.4%, meaning fashion sales have declined for 14 consecutive quarters at the retailer.
Bolland and his team stressed womenswear was on the up, dampened only by the warm weather in September. But taking the full six months into consideration the category was down by 0.8%.
In order to fast-forward this essential turnaround, M&S must put its trend-led products in front of consumers in a way that’s easy to shop and helps them to pull outfits together.
The retailer isn’t traditionally known for its inspiring store fits, but the unveiling of its new Westfield London store fit in White City may spell a seed change for the business.
Spacious isles, fashion-led product, better visual merchandising, more mannequins, iPads, more in-store services including a nail bar and a men’s made-to-measure shop-in-shop and clearly segmented sub-brands (and ages on kidswear) indicate M&S is taking a step in the right direction as the store allows shoppers to view the product, and the retailer, in a different light.
However, one shop does not a turnaround make. The extended Westfield store is the perfect showroom for M&S to display its ambitious store fit, but Bolland has a challenge on his hands to translate this undeniably impressive store into smaller, older shop units in less glamorous locations across the UK.
It’s all well and good having a pristine environment packed with the crème de la crème of the autumn 14 range in west London, but if Jane Bloggs can’t access the same experience on her local high street it won’t translate into sales.