Will fashion space be squeezed as M&S food sales grow?

There appears to be a question mark around the space given over to fashion in M&S’s physical stores in the future as the company appears to be preparing to focus even more heavily on food than it has done until now.


M&S


The retailer, which recently announced a massive food delivery agreement with Ocado, making its grocery range available online for the very first time, has been closing a number of full-line shops in recent periods, and this has affected the availability of its fashion and homewares in physical shops.

However, with its popular food operation hampered by the fact that only around 12 of its physical shops currently offer all 6,500 of its food products, the Mail On Sunday reported that the company has a plan to convert more space in existing stores to food. This could mean space currently focused on clothing changing to groceries.

Not that there has been any hint that it’s trying to move away from fashion, especially as the company continues to increase it's clothing, footwear and accessories sales via its webstore. And the popularity of click & collect means physical store locations, whether they sell fashion or not, would still be hugely important to the sales process.

The newspaper quoted from a letter sent to suppliers saying that the full range of its food products weren’t being put "in front of enough customers" and that “this must change.”

It added that it’s starting a store renewal programme that will mean “bigger, better M&S Food Halls in [both] new and existing sites.” the letter said.

Last May, M&S announced that it would shut 100 stores and that it wanted fewer-but-bigger clothing/homewares stores in better locations. Of the 1,000+ M&S stores at present, only 314 include clothing and it’s unclear how much clothing space might be cut in some of these existing stores under the new strategy.

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