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M&S unveils branding and store revamp

Marks & Spencer has unveiled revamped branding for its Per Una and North Coast sub-brands, as well as a complete overhaul of its core collection, which will include its name being abbreviated to M&S
on labelling.

The new M&S branding will hit stores for autumn 11 and is designed to clarify the identity of each collection. The most significant change will be the switch from the old-fashioned Marks & Spencer labelling to new M&S Man and M&S Woman badges (pictured right) within the retailer’s core basics offer. Director of general merchandise Kate Bostock said the change had been introduced because “everyone calls us M&S now”.

The branding revamp is part of a wider plan by chief executive Marc Bolland to reconfigure and localise stores and give each sub-brand a clearer identity on the shopfloor.

He will spend £600m on revamps.

M&S has already carved its store portfolio into groups to reflect the local shopper demographic. The stores will get a package of merchandise relevant to their local area.

Bolland said: “For example, [at the moment] in an affluent area with lots of kids, kidswear is not being given enough space in store.

“You walk into an M&S store and you see Per Una on one side and Autograph on the other, and then a no-man’s land - rows and rows of clothing, which is our M&S [own] label,” he added.

M&S grew sales by 4.2% to £9.7bn in the year to April 2. Underlying profit before tax soared 13% to £714.3m. Sales of general merchandise rose 3.2% on a like-for-like basis.

The first evidence of the new branding and navigation will be introduced at M&S’s store in Westfield Stratford, which is due to open in September.

Drapers shops M&S

Six months ago, Marc Bolland set up an experiment. Ten mystery shoppers were challenged to find 10 items featured in Marks & Spencer’s adverts in its stores within one hour. None of them returned with the full set.

This week, on the day Bolland outlined plans to address the issue, I tested the waters again.

I set out to locate 10 best-sellers in specific colours and sizes, including a reptile-print maxi dress from the Autograph Exclusive range, basic Indigo leggings, kids’ pyjamas and a man’s Stormwear suit, at the London Marble Arch flagship.

I found where all 10 items should have been located within a whisker of an hour but was thwarted by a lack of stock on some items.

That’s not to say it was easy. Despite a game plan, time was spent doubling back to areas already shopped. Autograph knitwear was located away from the main range. Hardly intuitive. Indigo was not listed on floor plans.

I was baffled by the proliferation of T-shirt bras: I was after M&S’s Nearly Naked T-shirt Bra and eventually found it, but only after trawling through many alternatives. If I hadn’t gone with a list of product codes, I would have left with the wrong items.

Katherine Rushton, deputy editor

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