Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Marks & Spencer's - sleeve it, its not worth it.


In the popular papers the popular kicking of Marks & Spencers at the shareholding meeting gets some column inches. The retailer is down on 1st quarter results 1.6%  on UK sales. And those against very soft comparatives. Its all pretty standard for M+S. Food good, International steady and clothing poor.
Its been like that at Marks for a long while now.

Sleeves are back!  Ladies aged 45+ seek out long/mid sleeved dresses to hide sagging arms as men of a similar age hunt baggy fit polo tops. I'll never fit into a Peter Werth or Ted Baker  shirt again. This got the cheer in the Guardian fashion pages. And it was surprising M+S last autumn collection had a higher than expected number of cap sleeved tops and dresses. 
But if it was as easy as making sleeves longer..we'd all be doing it. And , of course, others already are.

In Monte Carlo, in the shopping gallery by the famous casino, amongst the designer boutiques and prestige retailers is Zara. It has a big space in one of the most expensive shopping centers in the world.
It still sells its 25-40 euro priced clothes and accessories. Yet it does not look out of place.
Partly because it is very bright, well planned shop and has exceptionally good, modern advertising.
And its clothes are clothes for a young, fashionable, sunny, beachy, metropolitan area.

Marks and Spencers could be there too. It has a fantastic international reputation. The food offering has been in the top two in the UK since we were all children. They just need to get the fashion right.
AND the layouts right. Too many M+S still look like BHS or old C&A shops. They are merchandised tennis tops-shoes-casuals-trousers- dresses {long} - dresses {short} etc. The display mannequins and point of sale feature the collection centre piece outfits ensemble and strap lines.
That's the way it has always been done. Or nearly always.

Debenhams,  John Lewis and House of Fraser, by the nature of their concession branded shop floor layouts, merchandise much more by outfit building. Jeans, shoes, belt, hat bag are within arms reach. The neighbouring concession may have something that would look good with.. And its within a few steps. Not half a floor and an escalator ride away.
Younger aimed fashion stores, in the early 90's started hanging jeans up on the wall so the colour, detailing and leg shape was easy to determine.  Before then they were always flat folded. Always.
It was horrendous logistically as 1 line now took up 2.5 spaces. But then outfit building was possible. And clothes shops were no longer just space planning by type; but also by theme.

This is how online shopping works. 
How X looks with Y...You might also like Z! Other people who bought XYZ also bought V.

If M+S is going to attract that young, fashion conscious, impulsive female shopper that their strategy report demands, then they need to do more than make the sleeves longer,


15 comments:

Jan said...

Agree. M&S lost the plot a long time ago with its clothing and seems to cater for my parents generation who are now in their 70 and 80s. The stores are way too big and they could get rid of a lot of the clothing, downsize and it wouldn't make much differencr to the sales I bet.

andrew said...

They also lost the more quality conscious in the mid 90s.
Their suits used to be v. good.

I suppose an early version of the 'squeezed middle'.

Yes, I still buy food there

Demetrius said...

There are two things that occur. One is the radical changes in actual High Street retailing. The other is many people actually wear. There is a great deal of basic drab drab drab around these days across the age ranges. As a former M&S regular I plead guilty with extenuating circumstances.

lilith said...

The clothing is now indistinguishable from Tu or George. Nothing is properly cut and the material is shite.

Bill Quango MP said...

Jan: That is a part of the problem. Store size. But they have big underwear and footwear ranges. And suits and formal. Far more than their competitors so they need the space.
They have struggled to attract a younger woman and retain the older. Can't fault their advertising. Its 1st class. It must be the stock and merchandising.

Andrew. M+S mens isn't too bad. But its basic and expensive. Fat Face is more stylish and Crew is better made better colours for not much more in price. I skipped M&S for Next a few months back. And I'm not much of a fan of Next but they were way better on style and price.

Neither had any staff though.

Demetrius: listening to a program where they had customers comments on M+S they said 'lack of staff.'
but that's our fault for not shopping there.
Marks always over staffed. Over paid and over manned their stores. But 2 years of negative figs have cut those numbers down.

Lilith: Yep. They have been cutting corners for a long time. They operate on big margins, but with the sales drop and tough trading they have had to squeeze those margins. One way to get them back is cheaper materials and looser cuts.

They aren't in trouble. But they could be much better. No1 in UK for so long.

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Short Prom Dresses said...

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Bill Quango MP said...

Despite never clinking links..I clicked.

They are nice dresses

cours informatique said...

wonderful... this is very interesting ... Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser, by the nature of their concession branded shop floor layouts, merchandise much more by outfit building. Jeans, shoes, belt, hat bag are within arms reach. The neighbouring concession may have something that would look good with.. And its within a few steps. Not half a floor and an escalator ride away.
Younger aimed fashion stores, in the early 90's started hanging jeans up on the wall so the colour, detailing and leg shape was easy to determine. Before then they were always flat folded. Always.

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"" one of the important things that take my attention in this article is this great point.... "Sleeves are back! Ladies aged 45+ seek out long/mid sleeved dresses to hide sagging arms as men of a similar age hunt baggy fit polo tops. I'll never fit into a Peter Werth or Ted Baker shirt again. This got the cheer in the Guardian fashion pages. And it was surprising M+S last autumn collection had a higher than expected number of cap sleeved tops and dresses.
But if it was as easy as making sleeves longer..we'd all be doing it. And , of course, others already are.""

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