Marks & Spencer is taking its brands strategy a step further by launching a sports retail platform on its website. M&S says it’s going into battle in the £8.6bn sportswear category as it comes to the top of the agenda for many of its customers.
The clothing to homewares and food retailer is now launching The Sports Edit, the fast-growing activewear retailer in which it made a strategic investment in 2022, on M&S.com. At launch it features more than 200 products from third-party brands including Beyond Yoga, FP Movement, Girlfriend Collection and footwear brands Veja and Hoka. More brands will follow during the year – all available for free click and collect to more than 700 M&S pick-up points.
Katie Bickerstaffe, co-chief executive of M&S, says: “This year, we’re backing our growth categories with confidence and going into battle on sportswear. Building on the strong foundation of Goodmove, we’re combining our brand loyalty with the expertise of The Sports Edit to offer our customers an online sports retail platform which is a one-stop-shop for health and wellness.
“The launch of The Sports Edit as an integrated hub on M&S.com demonstrates the strength of our leading omnichannel platform; which continues to make M&S an increasingly attractive brand partner.”
M&S says the latest findings of its Family Matters Index suggest that heath and wellbeing is a priority for many shoppers. Some 44% of respondents say they are planning to do more exercise and take their health more seriously this year. In January, searches for trainers were up by 30% on the same time last year.
M&S also cites Kantar figures that put the value of the global sportswear market at £8.6bn a year, with brands accounting for 56% of the market. Sportswear is also a growth category for M&S’ own brands – its Goodmove activewear brand, launched in 2020, is now M&S’ largest, selling 1.6m products every year. Its Spring 2023 collection features styles for children as well as for women and men.
The retailer says it’s taking a curation-led approach to sportswear shopping, ranging from fitness and performance wear to athleisure.
Nick Paulson-Ellis, CEO and founder of The Sports Edit, says: “At The Sports Edit, we have a proven capability in brand curation and emerging brand identification – we’re experts in curating product and content, relevant to our customers lifestyles. We have worked closely with the team at M&S, to understand their customer lifestyles in order to hand-pick the very best of The Sports Edit for M&S.com. The launch builds on M&S’s foundation in sportswear to take it to the next level, filling gaps in areas that require specialist product, such as trainers to offer a platform equipped for the future.”
M&S brands strategy
Today’s announcement is part of a ‘brands at M&S’ strategy that sees the retailer now selling more than 50 third-party brands via its website. Sales of those brands now account for 8% of total M&S clothing and home sales, having grown by more than 50% in the third quarter of 2023 alone. Through the strategy, brands gain access to more than 30m M&S customers, while the other direction, most third-party brand orders also contain an M&S product.
M&S is ranked Leading in RXUK Top500 research.