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M&S posts record share gains

Marks & Spencer delivered a record uplift in its clothing market share in its fourth quarter after initiatives around accelerating newness in ranges, an overhaul of its sub-brand Per Una and the relaunch of its Collezione menswear sub-brand paid off.

The UK’s largest fashion retailer’s overall clothing share rose from 10.8% to 11.9% year on year in the 12 weeks to February 28 - the biggest single movement recorded by M&S in a 12-week period. Within that, womenswear share rose from 9.8% to 10.9%, lingerie from 24.1% to 25.4%, menswear from 11.1% to 12.6% and kidswear from 5.2% to 6.4%.

Director of general merchandise Kate Bostock said the retailer had begun to see evidence that shoppers were trading up to better-quality items, with the chain’s better and best ranges showing strong growth.

She said M&S had “probably nibbled at the high end of the market, rather than a particular competitor”, to gain share.

Bostock said that the changes within fashion, which included a 15% reduction in options to reduce duplication over the past 12 months, plus a reduction in prices at Per Una and more fashion within menswear, had all helped to drive share.

She said the changes were “ongoing”, but that she was happy with M&S’s stable of sub-brands after the introduction of the Portfolio and Indigo ranges, aimed at an older customer, last year. “I’m hoping we’ve got the assortment right. Now I want to drive [the sub-brands] harder.”

She added that improved performance would probably have been evident earlier had it not been for the impact of recession last year.

M&S beat City forecasts for its fourth quarter ending March 27, when general merchandise like-for-likes climbed 9.1% and total clothing sales advanced 10.1%.

M&S Q4 product highlights

Knitwear sales

+17% to 1.8m pieces

Occasionwear dresses

+133%

Workwear dresses

+200%

Jersey tops

+30%

Valentine’s Day lingerie

+50%, including 300,000 bra sales

Leggings, treggings and jeggings

100,000 pairs sold

Collezione suits

20,000 sold

Kate Bostock

Skirts “We’re very encouraged by skirt sales. Our denim skirt has been one of our fastest-selling lines.”

Lace “Fake fur is a big-time favourite for us [for autumn 10]. Lace is also doing well.”

Leggings and Jeggings “I can’t see anyone bolting themselves into rigid tight-fitting trousers again. The only problem would be if everyone started tucking their shirts in.”

Military “We’re seeing good sales of the military look, and Napoleonic jackets are strong. Brocades bring newness.”

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