Marks & Spencer has unveiled the first of its new-format pilot stores which are designed to better showcase individual brands and make stores easier to navigate.
The changes, on show today at London’s High Street Kensington store, give all of the M&S sub-brands a separate identity in store and use improved directional signage to help make product easier to find.
The new format is to be rolled-out to a further 15 pilot stores by mid-October. This will include the new M&S store at Westfield Stratford, which opens tomorrow.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said the store at High Street Kensington was a “bit more real life” than the store in Westfield Stratford and gives an idea of what can be replicated in existing stores.
In its fashion offering a distinct section has been created for each sub-brand, such as Limited Collection, Autograph and Blue Harbour, separated with the use of different mannequins, lighting fixtures and anchor wall graphics, giving the store a department store concession-style feel.
Elsewhere, its core basics offer, which will be switched from the old-fashioned Marks & Spencer labelling to M&S Man and M&S Woman, has been given its own dedicated section with improved signposting to make product easier to find.
According to Bolland, this is the first phase of the store changes which will see the first 16 rolled out before mid-October with another 80 stores being given the new format before the end of the financial year in March 2012 and then the remainder of the portfolio updated over the following 18 months.
From March 2012 the retailer will also look to bring in the second phase of its programme to include accessories and multi-channel.
Bolland added that as more stores are overhauled their performance will be reviewed and changes will be made.