British Marks & Spencer is stemming an apparel offensive

British Marks & Spencer is stemming an apparel offensive

Out of necessity because of a persisting decline in sales of clothing and home ware, affecting further growth, British Marks & Spencer is stemming a new apparel offensive

The British retailer will fill its stores with fashion focused dresses, animal print skirts and British made wool pea coats later this month in order to accelerate general merchandise sales. The announcement was made at the annual meeting and combined with a short fashion show before 1133 shareholders in London on July 9, 2013.

Marks & Spencer has vamped up its 2013 autumn/winter clothing line since style director Belinda Earl joined the group last year and by improving style and quality of its apparel offering. However, the company continues to sell the line designed before her arrival. The targeted customers is 45 plus. The new clothing line has longer hemlines and 80 more dresses with sleeves. The new initiative meets an uptrend in British consumer confidence. British retail sales have returned to growth (+2.9 % in June and same store sales at stores in business for at least one year showed a plus of 1.4 %, already in May total sales rose 3.4 % and same store figures increased 1.8 %) during the past months, raising hopes of a recovery in consumer spending. Clothing retailers are only actually enjoying the surge, after cold months dampening spring sales.

In the thirteen weeks to June 29 (the firm’s first fiscal quarter) general merchandise sales fell 1.6 %, a slight improvement from the drop in the fourth quarter (-3.8 %) or the year earlier (-6.8 %). On the other hand the strong food division and international revenue increased 3.6 % in the first quarter.

The apparel offensive is not the only measure, Marks & Spencer upgrades also its operations, overhauls its logistics, and IT and Internet capabilities. But of course these measures firstly create GBP 30 million costs from overlapping operations in the ongoing year, amid efforts to consolidate distributions centres and phase in a new web platform.

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