Marks & Spencer Tests Private Brand Boutiques

English retailer Marks & Spencer will use 14 pilot stores to test in-store marketing concepts for its revamped fashion Private Brands as it attempts to make the likes of Per Una and Blue Harbour household names.

M&S has developed new brand identities including logos, color schemes and values for each of its fashion Private Brands. It will also look at the way each is communicated in store.

Each brand will have a dedicated store-within-a-store in the test stores designed to deliver the unique brand experiences.

The strategy, designed to mirror a typical department store environment, will see each brand have its own “anchor wall, display feature and mannequin style”.

The changes follow the creation of four director roles to oversee brand strategy from start to finish.

M&S executive director for marketing Steve Sharp told the English trade magazine Marketing Week the directors will treat the retailer’s Private Brands “as if they were separately owned”. Previously, the marketing teams were split by function, working across brands.

He adds: “Because we don’t sell other companies’ brands, all marketing has to be created from scratch for our range of in-house brands. The new teams are being set up now and when they are in place, our ability to execute the brand strategy will get better.”

The pilot stores are part of a Pounds 600m investment in M&S’s store portfolio announced by chief executive Marc Bolland, who plans to overhaul the retail business.

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.