IR Strategy and Innovation

How M&S is rethinking its stores in the light of changing customer behaviour

M&S, an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research, this week set out how it plans to reengineer its stores in the light of the changing way that shoppers now buy. Here are the key points.

Opening new stores…

The retailer plans to put the focus on its key growth area – food. It plans to open 34 new food stores over the next six months, as well as two clothing, home and food stores. These will be in central locations, such as Bishopsgate near London Liverpool Street, and Spinningfields in central Manchester, that are more convenient for shoppers buying food.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said: “M&S stores will always be an integral part of our customer offer, working seamlessly alongside our website, M&, to deliver great products and service to our customers. However, our customers’ shopping habits are changing. Picking up food for now or tonight rather than doing one big shop or browsing and shopping online and collecting in store are great examples of this and we are committed to adapting our business so that we stay in tune with our customers.”

…but closing underperforming outlets

Six stores, including four clothing, home and food stores, and two food shops that will relocate to other nearby stores, will close. Staff are promised a move to nearby stores. Rowe said: “It is our intention that nobody leaves M&S and we will work as hard as possible to ensure that we can deliver against this promise.”

Investing in customer service

The retailer says new stores will mean 1,400 new jobs, including both customer assistant jobs and management roles. “This means there will be more M&S colleagues working in an increased number of convenient locations, serving more customers,” said Rowe.

Summing up

M&S’ five-year store estate programme was launched in November with the aspiration of better serving customer demand. It currently has 959 stores including 304 full stores, 615 food-only stores and 40 outlets. It plans to have 200 more food-only stores and to sell clothing and homewares from 60 fewer locations. M&S says the result will be “more, conveniently located M&S stores but fewer, more inspirational clothing and home stores that offer customers better ranging and availability.”

Image credits:
  • Marks & Spencer

3 comments on “How M&S is rethinking its stores in the light of changing customer behaviour

  1. David Oldroyd said:

    M&S deserves great credit for trying to reflect the customer behaviors of today and tomorrow in their offerings and infrastructure plans.
    It used to be on a par with JLP on customer service but it is way behind them now and is a long way off Amazon re on line service.
    There is still much to do although another recent plus point is the return to grouping clothing types in a more coherent way in store. They do have to accept however that they cannot hope to cover all parts of the buying demographic. They should clarify definitively who their target customer are and then really work hard to deliver what they want.
    A recent danger has been the price driven strategies to increase volume as employed by some premium male clothing brands.
    They need to react both in terms of offers and choice or another area will start to suffer.

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