Marks & Spencer boosts back to school offer with third-party brands
Marks & Spencer has boosted its key back to school category by expanding its relationship with big brands such as Clarks and Smiggle and introducing new high-profile names.
Part of its wider "Brands at M&S" strategy, the latest move sees the retail giant rolling out Clarks footwear to 27 stores, and school supplies brands Smiggle and Hype to 60 stores and eight stores respectively. It has also welcomed backpack specialist Jansport and footwear brand Kickers to M&S.com.
The expansion of the branded footwear and accessories offer is designed to complement Marks & Spencer's own-brand clothing and ensure M&S is seen as a "one-stop-shop" for school wear this year. It also offers customers the chance to take advantage of M&S's services and benefits, such as next-day Click & Collect, and Sparks loyalty points when buying popular brands.
The store expansion of Clarks, Hype and Smiggle follows the success of a trial in eight stores across the UK for back to school last year. M&S said that stores which featured Clarks' complementary measure & fit service, on average saw an 8% rise in customers in store, sincreasing total kidswear sales by 13%.
Back to school is the third biggest retail event of the year and is strategically crucial to Marks & Spencer, which has been seeking to position itself firmly as a retailer for all the family with one in four of its Clothing & Home customers now buying kidswear. Earlier in the year, M&S also welcomed early years toy specialist, Early Learning Centre, to 10 stores across the UK.
Neil Harrison, Director of Brands at M&S said “We’re really proud to be the UK market leader in children’s schoolwear, known for our trusted quality and everyday value. Back-to-School is a busy time for families and we want to make the shopping experience even easier for our customers by putting some of their favourite footwear and accessories brands, alongside our strong schoolwear offer. This is just one of the many ways we’re offering our 22m Clothing & Home customers, more reasons to shop with M&S.”
Creating a third-party brand offer in fashion and accessories has been a key pillar of M&S strategy over the past two years. Not only has it introduced brands online and in-store but it has also invested in brands, such as eco-fashion brand Nobody's Child, Jaeger and multi brand online sports retailer The Sports Edit, which stocks M&S's own brand activewear Good Move.
Brands at M&S Timeline
- September 2020 – The first third-party clothing brand went live on M&S.com – Nobody’s Child
- November 2020 – Early Learning Centre launched on M&S.com
- January 2021 – M&S purchased its first brand – Jaeger – for £6m, (Jaeger then relaunched under the leadership of Fiona Lambert in October 2021)
- March 2021 – "Brands at M&S" officially launched introducing several clothing brands including Seasalt, Sloggi and Sosandar
- June 2021 – Footwear brand Clarks and Hype launched on M&S.com and in 8 stores across the UK
- September 2021 – School and leisure essentials retailer Smiggle launched on M&S.com and in 8 stores across the UK
- November 2021 – M&S purchased a minority stake of the eco-conscious fashion brand, Nobody’s Child
- March 2022 – M&S invested in The Sports Edit