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M&S pledges "significant upgrades" to quality and style

Marks & Spencer has unveiled its first full collection under style director Belinda Earl, pledging “significant upgrades” to quality and “improved fashion and design credentials”.

The retailer’s autumn 13 collection, which has been widely seen as make-or-break for chief executive Marc Bolland, will hit stores from late July.

M&S has been criciticised recently for failing to maintain both quality and style, which commentators argue has been a major factor in its declining clothing sales.

Executive director of general merchandise John Dixon said the collection was “the culmination of six months of extensive research that has seen us listen to our customers’ views on brand and build on our heritage”.

The collection marks the start of renewed focus on “exceptional quality and confident style”, he added.

Earl said: “Over the last few months we have learnt that M&S is a brand that should be looking upwards for aspiration and we are determined to do just that… We are focused on delivering quality, stylish fashions for our customers each and every time they shop with us.”

Bolland added: “I am confident that we are taking a step in the right direction by focusing on quality and style.”

Higher quality fabrics are being deployed across M&S’ ranges – its £65 cashmere jumper has increased weight by 9%, while basic cotton T-shirts have been upgraded with a finish that reduces pilling. M&S has also reviewed its sizing blocks to give better consistency across the different brands.

The finish of products has also been improved, introducing visible French seams for a neater look.  

The retailer has also shaken up its sub-brands, confirming the launch of umbrella brand M&S Collection this autumn. The new brand, which M&S described as “the next step in the development of M&S Woman”, will comprise Limited Edition – an adapted version of the Limited Collection, which will have fortnightly drops “to regularly bring customers the latest interpretations of the key season’s trends”.

Per Una, Autograph and Indigo will remain distinct sub-brands.

Frances Russell, director of womenswear, said: “We’ve injected some love back in to our brands and focused on their brand signatures to ensure that every product in each of our collections has been designed specifically with our customers in mind. This product focus, coupled with a clearly signposted, compelling collection of brands helps to make choosing amazing outfits that are perfect for every occasion even easier for our customers.”

M&S is also introducing a range designed and manufactured in Britain, as part of a three-year partnership with the British Fashion Council, which was first unveiled in February. Best of British is an edited collection of classic items that will run across womenswear and menswear.  Garments will be made in a selection of premium fabrics such as luxury Scottish cashmere and fine Yorkshire cloths.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Isn't this a bit late? M&S used to be the template for quality, but that was many years ago. The previous decades where the likes of Stuart 'Beige Slippers' Rose decided to chase Next and later, Primark was a huge mistake as the quality continued to fall and customers moved elsewhere. Food aside, there is no reason to go to M&S unless you are a voyeur of Blue Rinses.

    Maybe they've seen the light, but when the management don't know what they need, they aren't going to employ the right people. And that has been going on at M&S for years.

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  • I don't think I am the only one who still does not know who each of the sub brands are aimed at.
    Per Una
    M&S Woman / M&S Woman
    I need a clear explanation and I want to know where the original Autograph went as I used to buy that when it had signature pieces by Betty Jackson and others at the beginning and it was excellent quality and not in every store so not seen everywhere and included good wool tailoring with fashion flare, not watery polyesters with crude details which aren't even as good as the mass market styles.

    I hope for M&S's sake that all this will be addressed. I have not bought from them for a good 10 years now and unless it is - I wont.

    The main problem they have is no clear customer segmentation currently and a bad feeling in customer hearts which is doubly hard to reverse.

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  • I wouldn't buy their clothing but do buy my undies from them (have done for years) however, the last purchase were the 3 for £10 blk shorts style with lace sides. Put them on 1st time and my fingers just went through the lace + made a big hole.
    I would actually pay more but, obviously they like to shrink the quality to fit this price point. Big mistake.

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