M&S revamps clothes with raft of new labels: Finery London is first to launch in major shake-up to take on Next
- Touker Suleyman to launch his Finery London label on M&S website on Thursday
- Others expected to launch in instalments for the spring offensive include Joules, Phase Eight, Hobbs, Seasalt and Ghost
- M&S executives say plan will ‘turbo charge’ their online clothing business
High street giant Marks & Spencer is set to kickstart a once-in-a-generation overhaul of its clothing strategy by offering a string of top fashion brands alongside its own ranges.
The first in a raft of third-party brands will launch on its website this week, with more new labels from outside the business being added over the coming months.
The high street stalwart has signed up Touker Suleyman, the fashion veteran and one of the stars of BBC’s Dragons’ Den, to launch his Finery London label on its website on Thursday.
Tie-up: Touker Suleyman’s Finery London label will launch on the M&S website
Others expected to launch in instalments for the spring offensive include Joules, Phase Eight, Hobbs, Seasalt and Ghost.
This major programme to launch new labels will be among the most high-profile changes in a plan that M&S executives say will ‘turbo charge’ their online clothing business and ‘reset’ clothing and home departments in stores as they reopen after lockdown.
Creating a brand ‘marketplace’ online means M&S can compete more directly with Next and John Lewis. It follows a trend set by Asos and Boohoo which have been building up brand stables.
M&S hopes the new strategy will drive customers to its website and tempt shoppers who only spend in its food halls to buy clothes as well. M&S is also making a number of improvements to its own clothing ranges.
The overhaul at M&S is regarded in the City as the biggest shift in its clothing strategy for 20 years since the retailer drafted in Next founder George Davies in 2001 to help rescue the business, while adding a host of new designers for its Autograph range.
In November, The Mail on Sunday revealed details of talks to buy Jaeger – and these were confirmed only last month.
The overhaul at M&S is regarded as the biggest shift in its clothing strategy for 20 years
Touker Suleyman’s Finery London for M&S
M&S has drafted in former George at Asda executive Fiona Lambert to run the label and Anna Braithwaite, former brand director for Tesco’s F&F Clothing, as clothing and home marketing director.
Marks & Spencer has pruned the number of products across its clothing ranges by a fifth to give the fastest selling ranges more visibility in stores and shoppers more space to browse. It has also been rewiring its supply operation to accelerate the pace of reordering and reduce the risk of running out of popular products.
Suleyman, who also operates the Ghost fashion label, told The Mail on Sunday he is relaunching the Finery London label with its own website today.
He has curated an exclusive collection for Marks & Spencer and is also preparing to launch a separate M&S X Ghost collection.
He said: ‘After 45 years in the fashion industry I’m going back into a very hands-on, product-led approach and it’s given me a lot of energy. I’m looking at every product individually, signing it off. I’m obsessed. This is my baby.
‘There’s a gap in the market to be exploited and I’m drawing on all my experience and my knowledge to make this work. I think this summer people will go and buy and people will look in their wardrobe and say, “I want something new”. But customers are much more savvy in the way they buy and you’ve got to have products to excite them. We’re taking worldwide fashion – influences from all around the globe – and putting it into one brand.’
Marks & Spencer bought Jaeger fashion brand from administrators in January
Suleyman launched a limited M&S X Ghost collection in November, which he said ‘sold out in 24 hours’. He said the M&S X Ghost range being prepared for spring will be ‘ten times as big’.
He added: ‘The market is swamped with cheap products that nobody really wants at the moment and I think the consumer will pay a little bit more if she thinks she’s getting great style, great quality and great value. That’s the aim with Finery and where we want to disrupt the status quo.’
Suleyman was previously a passive investor in Finery, but recently took full control of the brand.
He has sold the previous stock and is now supplying from his own factories in Turkey and Jordan.
One fashion supplier said: ‘They say you should never waste a crisis and Archie [Norman, the M&S chairman] and his team reacted quickly to make the most of lockdown.
‘Their clothing business had been treading water for the past decade, but they appear to be giving it their best shot this time.’