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M&S regains lead as it reinvents and broadens fashion offer, profile highlights

Image © M&S

M&S’ efforts in revamping its fashion offer have not gone unnoticed by UK fashion shoppers, according to a company profile – authored by Liz Morrell – in the new RetailX UK Fashion 2024 report

In November 2023, the retailer regained its crown as the UK’s biggest womenswear retailer, overtaking Next in terms of value of sales. It was a position that the company hadn’t held since pre-pandemic in 2019. 

M&S reported underlying sales of clothing up 5.5% in the six months to 30 September 2023, with particularly strong sales in holiday wear and denim. Its profit margins also increased as more of its products were sold at full price, rather than being discounted. 

Building a brand portfolio 
The retailer is reinventing itself as an icon of style and continues to build its brand portfolio, most recently rolling out Nobody’s Child pop-up shops to 48 new stores in March on top of the existing 12 stores. The 450-sq-ft spaces offer a capsule collection of more than 30 pieces from the SS24 collection. Nobody’s Child was the first third-party brand to be introduced to the company’s platform. Since then the Brands at M&S platform has grown to more than 90 third-party brands, helping to drive new customers, frequency and spend. 

In a similar move, the company has also expanded its range of sports and activewear. It launched The Sports Edit on M& in February 2023 and earlier this year revealed that in the 12 months since searches for sportswear had grown by 110% on M& The website is now home to 20 third-party partners, with recent additions including Puma and Reebok. 

A focus on sustainability
In its latest efforts on sustainability, M&S announced in April the option for the public to donate unwearable, as well as wearable, preloved clothing through a new trial of a free postal donation service in partnership with Oxfam.

Its research showed that a third of the UK didn’t know what to do with clothes that can’t be reworn, with three in ten customers putting them in their household bins. M&S has been offering customers a second home for their preloved clothing since the launch of Shwopping in 2008. 

This profile, authored by Liz Morrell, is one of six featured in the RetailX UK Fashion 2024 report. It also looks at:

  • Kurt Geiger -The 60-year-old British business continues to thrive in its luxury footwear and accessories segment
  • Secret Sales – Continued growth, with ambition to become Europe’s largest marketplace for discounted fashion
  • Zara – Since its debut in 1998, Zara has continued to thrive in the UK market. It has a clear focus on sustainability
  • Boohoo – Continues to surprise as it moves from fast fashion towards a focus on sustainability
  • Cider – Popularity is brewing among younger consumers, with its smart fashion model regarded as key

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