The battle to maintain market share has heated up in the middle market after high street retailers Marks & Spencer and Next lost share in core menswear and womenswear categories.
According to TNS Fashiontrak, M&S lost 0.4% of market share by value in the six months to mid-October, including a significant 0.7% menswear loss and a 0.5% fall in womenswear. However, kidswear gained 0.6%.
Next lost 0.1% overall, after recording a 0.1% decline in menswear and a similar loss in womenswear. It lost 0.3% of its kidswear market share but remains the leader in this category with 9.2%.
This week, M&S launched its first pre-Christmas promotion in four years, in an attempt to halt sliding sales. It held a 20%-off day on Wednesday which coincided with Debenhams’ Megaday promotion. M&S denied that this was a “reactive” move.
Department store chain Debenhams gained market share over the six-month period, rising 0.1% overall and recording a 0.2% lift in menswear and kidswear. Womenswear share was flat over the period.
Supermarket retailer George at Asda recorded gains across kidswear, excluding schoolwear sales. Its share rose 1.4% to 7.1%.
M&S also implemented a restructure of its clothing team which resulted in the departure of menswear trading director Julian Kilmartin, after more than five years with the company. He has been replaced by Richard Price, who was head of merchandising, womenswear.
Speaking at the Drapers Fashion Summit in London, M&S chairman Sir Stuart Rose this week played down market share concerns.
Rose said: “One retailer told me they wanted to ‘buy market share’. I’m not interested in buying market share for its own sake. We have the biggest clothing market share and I’m happy as long as we’re maintaining market share.”
He acknowledged that women’s market share had dropped but said men’s had increased by volume if not by value. He added that he was not expecting any significant increase in market share next year.
Separate sources said the slump in menswear market share at M&S was due to poor performance of its casual lines and that suiting and formal trouser sales were holding up.
M&S is believed to be planning to relaunch its Blue Harbour casual sub-brand in an attempt to halt the deadline.
One said: “Blue Harbour is so big and disparate that it’s almost meaningless. Men’s denim is poor and there are questions about the quality of the product offer. M&S is trying to raise prices but that’s not proving easy.”
Rose told the Drapers Fashion Summit this week that the signs pointed towards a tough Christmas and that he did not expect the downturn to end until the end of 2009 or early 2010.
Separately, M&S launched Portfolio, its classic co-ordinates womenswear sub-brand to the press this week. M&S said the collection would help it better serve the 45-plus market.