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M&S plans premium shoe range

Marks & Spencer is introducing a top tier to its Autograph footwear range as it rolls out a new-look footwear area to 30 stores.

The range, which will go into 20 stores for autumn, is intended to cement the premium credentials of the retailer's top brand. "The range is about elegance and sophistication," said head of buying for women's footwear Bernadette Lusher.

Existing price points in the Autograph collection range from £25 to £45. Details of the launch are still under wraps, but the premium offer is likely to be a significant step up, although still priced at less than £100.

To coincide with the launch, new layouts and shelving displays will be introduced in 30 stores to simplify the offer.

"Having loads of shoes filling the shelves can be intimidating," said Lusher. "We've done a lot of work to improve that - you will be able to see Limited, Autograph and Comfort when you look around the department. Footwear specialists have windows where they can show off their product, and we wanted to introduce the feel of a window so we can show different styles."

M&S has also introduced hanging footwear in its clothing departments for the first time for summer, including main brand and Limited options for less than £20. "We've seen massive sales uplifts as a result," said Lusher.

Changes to the way M&S sources footwear has led to an average three months being sliced off its lead times, enabling it to select more product closer to the season, as well as in-season lines.

Lusher added that footwear had been a key part of M&S's womenswear revival in the past year.

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