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Marks & Spencer acquires IP developed by collapsed fashion marketplace Thread

Tom Shearsmith
30 November 2022

Marks & Spencer has acquired the intellectual property developed by collapsed fashion marketplace Thread, as it seeks to boost revenues from new personalised services.

The deal is part of a pre-pack administration where a buyer was lined up before the firm declared insolvency, according to The Times.

The acquisition includes the source codes and algorithms developed by Thread, whose “cutting-edge, proprietary tech” will be integrated into the M&S website, allowing it to recommend clothes to a customer based on their own style, size and budget.

The company will take on 30 of Thread’s data scientists, software engineers and creative teams to lead the integration. The hires include Kieran O’Neill and Ben Phillips, the duo who co-founded Thread in 2012. M&S estimated that developing the technology themselves would've taken approximately three years.

Katie Bickerstaffe, Co-CEO at M&S, said: “The acquisition of Thread is the perfect example of a ‘buy not build’ approach – enabling us to accelerate our personalisation strategy by integrating the market leading tech on M& in under 12 months. We’re taking personalisation to the next level to inspire our customers with tailored outfit inspiration.

“We have been working hard to deliver better, more stylish ranges and this algorithm will also put more of our great product in front of the customer, whilst further unlocking the potential of our third-party brand strategy, by adding outfit completing product ideas. We already know the incremental value personalisation can bring and we anticipate that personalisation will generate more than £100m of annualised incremental revenue for the business.”

Kieran O’Neill, Thread Co-Founder, commented: “We have worked for the past ten years on building the most advanced AI personalisation for online fashion, proven to increase customer conversion and repeat orders.

“We’re so excited to join forces with M&S; through their infrastructure and support, we’re able to take our market-leading technology to the next level, providing a personalised and unique shopping experience for their 30 million customers.”

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