Marks and Spencer chief Marc Bolland is looking into boosting the company's sales, possibly by acquiring new clothing brands to fill the extra spaces in the stores. Sources familiar with the matter said that this move may bring in external brands to Marks and Spencer for the first time. Bolland is considering some brands to be potential acquisitions of the popular retailer.
According to a Financial Times report, Bolland has already looked at brands such as The White Company and Jaeger. Sources say that The White Company, a retailer that sells home furnishings and luxury fashion, may be in line with what Bolland wants for Marks and Spencer. Marks and Spencer has previously looked at Jaeger, but did not pursue the clothing chain.
The retailer is home to in-house fashion brands such as Per Una and Autograph. Bolland sees acquiring external brands as a way of expanding the range being offered by Marks and Spencer. People close to the matter say he hopes that the move will entice women to buy clothes from the retailer again. The plan has not yet been discussed with the M&S board, according to the sources.
While the move is entirely possible, analysts question whether potential brand acquisitions will be used as a cover up for the company's weak market performance or eventually be subsumed by Marks and Spencer. Haitong analyst Tony Shiret pointed out that such has been the case with Per Una, which was created by fashion entrepreneur George Davies in 2001. "Is M&S going to encourage these brands or is it going to suffocate them?" Shiret asked. M&S has not commented on the matter.
Last week, Marks and Spencer made news as a glitch exposed the account information of its customers while they logged in on the Marks and Spencer website. Customers who were registering their Sparks rewards card saw other people's details when they have logged in. M&S shut down the website for two hours to fix the problem, which alarmed many customers who thought the incident was a cyberattack.