M&S links with Clarks, Little Joule and more for kidswear drive
M&S is continuing to put support behind its key categories and not long after a big lingerie launch, it’s also focusing on kidswear. It has announced a number of new third-party brands joining the line-up as its “kidswear is growing ahead of the market with the team continuing to focus on ‘everyday style & value’ for this growth category”.
Most newsworthy is the fact that high-profile footwear brand Clarks will be available via the kids section of the M&S webstore from this summer. But it’s also adding Hype, Bestseller’s Jack & Jones Junior, Little Joule, and Somebody’s Child (the Nobody’s Child kids’ brand).
Clarks will also be sold “in eight UK destination stores”. These will include Bluewater in Kent, Glasgow’s Argyle Street, Cheshire Oaks, Cardiff’s Culverhouse Cross, Southampton’s Hedge End, Lisburn, London’s Westfield Stratford and Wolstanton.
M&S Kids’ growth is outstripping that of the wider market with share up 0.5% versus the pre-pandemic period. It’s now the third biggest online kids clothing website in the UK.
The company said the inclusion of Clarks is “part of continued momentum for the retailer in its strategic shift from ‘special occasion’ clothing & footwear to everyday style & value. This strategy means growing in kids casual categories – from joggers to jeans, alongside M&S retaining its reputation as the ‘go to’ retailer for trusted-quality, value school uniform”.
M&S is currently market-leading in several aspects of schoolwear, but it said it “recognises the opportunity to introduce a trusted footwear specialist alongside its own range, as part of its brand strategy”, and is therefore “trialling" the partnership with Clarks.
The back-to-school (BtS) season may have been disrupted in the past year, but it kicks off in earnest in the next few months and should be back to being the third-largest retail event of the year.
Next month M&S will launch a major BtS customer campaign “focusing on being the ‘go to’ for sustainably sourced schoolwear offering innovation and value, now with the added bonus of Clarks school shoes”.
BtS will also benefit from “a renewed energy [put] into making it easier to remember the ‘extras, with items such as new socks and vests harder to miss when shopping on M&S.com". As part of this focus on a complete offer, it’s also boosting its accessories range by introducing the Hype range of schoolbags and water bottles.
But, as mentioned, it’s not all about school, as the new kidswear focus sees the retailer concentrating on “being a destination for kids’ casual, and therefore the partnership with Clarks will also include a selection of daywear shoes”.
As well as the other new arrivals, labels for kids on the M&S webstore include Ben Sherman, Ghost Original Penguin, Elle Junior, Russell Athletic and Havaianas.
Jill Stanton, Director of M&S Kidswear (Womenswear & Beauty) said: “For millions, an M&S uniform with Clarks shoes is a rite of passage – so we’re making it even easier for parents by offering the option to purchase these together. Our kidswear mission is to remain the ‘go to’ for back-to-school whilst growing our daywear offer and that’s all about being more fun for everyday – more comfortable, more colourful, more casual. As part of this we have a great opportunity to introduce curated brands to complement our offer – from our exclusive ‘mini-me' Ghost dresses which have been flying off the shelf, to the new brand from Nobody’s Child.”
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