The recent news that new new M&S Chief Exec Marc Bolland will be reviewing the brands extensive label collection didn’t really come as a shock. And, it has obviously not worried anyone since shares in the M&S stock rose 5pc on the very day Bolland’s appointment was announced.
Many will agree that the famous department store has become an unfathomable jungle of labels which host no brand philosophy behind them: Autograph, Indigo, Portfolio are all just labels with no stark or customer-noticed identity. The only sub-brand that anyone truly recognises is Per Una which made the brand an reported £500m in 2008. I think this has a lot to do with attention to the brand and the detail of the product as well as a clear and significant financial investment in the brand’s promotion. Only Per Una has specific branded carrier bags.
In fact, I was at a presentation and networking evening recently headed up by Geek Branding Consultancy and the topic of M&S came up as Bolland had only recently been given the M&S crown. Rafael Gilston, co-founder of Geek, said of the M&S shopping experience ‘it’s just a sea of product’ and that the test of a true brand was whether or not it could stand up on it’s own, he said that he felt ‘only Per Una is ready for that’.
I am not going to ramble on about Marc Bolland’s many challenges, as you can read about them everywhere. I just hope that the Mother of the highstreet remains so under Bolland that that the sub-brands he axes make room for others to flourish. I don’t think M&S would do too well if it went the way of NEXT and dramatically limited its sub-brand offer. Nor, however do I believe allowing square-footage to sub-brands that customers do not identify with is a good plan either. I look forward to seeing where Bolland’s axe falls.