Once resolutely a single-brand department store, having not always had resounding success with its proprietary sub-brands, Marks & Spencer launched its ‘Never the Same Again’ initiative in May 2020, in response to the pandemic. Among its aims to accelerate food growth through Ocado, find value through the food supply chain, grow via M&S.com and “create a store estate for the new world”, the programme committed to “accelerating everyday style and value”.
This involved expanding the chain’s repertoire to include the sale of third-party brands such as diverse as Ghost London and Early Learning Centre. In January 2021, the company also announced it was to acquire premium ready-to-wear brand, Jaeger which entered administration in 2020.
Interestingly, this move comes on top of its 30th December 2020 statement that it was to expand its Goodmove womenswear range to kidswear and menswear with a much bigger focus overall on casualwear. The company noted that lockdown has seen over half of M&S customers wearing activewear as everyday clothing.
Given the recent difficulties faced by the increasingly outmoded department store model, M&S CEO, Steve Rowe, was at pains to state in the company’s Christmas trading update that the retailer was not going down this route, stating that it was “about finding and partnering with adjacent brands.” Jaeger may be a natural fit with the core Marks & Spencer shopper, but with the clear shift to work-from-home and speculation the trend will continue well beyond the pandemic, how additive a smart, businesswear brand will be, particularly up against the company’s own Autograph brand, is yet to be determined.
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