Having started out as a Penny Bazaar at Leeds Kirkgate Market in 1884, Marks & Spencer has grown into a major multinational retailer with more than 1330 stores in 59 countries worldwide and an annual revenue of GBP10.3 billion (AUD22.2 billion).
In the UK, the company has a 9.0% share of the womenswear market and 10.8% of the menswear market, with a significant amount of the apparel being made from wool. In 2014/15 the company used 1.5 million metres of wool or wool blend cloth, which is forecast to rise in 2015/16 to 1.7 million metres. In 2014/15 it sold 1 million units of wool or wool blend knitwear.
“We are by far the largest UK retailer in terms of wool usage,” says M&S CEO Marc Bolland.
“Wool remains very important across our clothing lines. In menswear, we use wool for our coats, suits and knitwear and we’ll see more and more wool use in womenswear.”
The Woolmark Company has worked in collaboration with M&S for several years to help promote the use of Merino wool in its ranges. Last year M&S became a Woolmark and Woolmark Blend licensee to emphasise to customers - via point of sale collateral including swing tickets and labels - the high quality of its wool products.
“The Woolmark Company supports M&S on product development, sourcing and marketing to help raise awareness amongst its customers of what wool can offer in terms of natural benefits and value,” says The Woolmark Company Country Manager for the UK Rebecca Kelley.
“M&S focuses on quality, and so Merino wool has long been a key fibre within their menswear and womenswear collections.
“Wool is well known in the UK as a cold season fibre, but there is opportunity for retailers to sell Merino wool apparel much more in the spring and summer seasons. M&S has started leveraging our Cool Wool sub-brand to effectively stimulate sales during the warmer seasons, emphasising the natural breathability and thermo-regulating properties of lightweight Merino wool products.”
For the UK’s Autumn/Winter 2015 retail season, M&S introduced a new campaign - titled ‘The Art of’ - across TV, print and digital platforms designed to put a spotlight on the unique quality and style of Marks & Spencer products.
Marks & Spencer TV advert focuses on tailoring and features the Woolmark brand.
The campaign features plenty of wool products - plus the Woolmark brand, and a sheep to emphasise the provenance of the fibre - and uses a stylish and cutting edge format to celebrate the craftsmanship and fashion credentials across M&S’s product ranges. The campaign launched in the UK last year and received wide acclaim, with elements used across international markets.
For the Spring/Summer 2016 season, Marks & Spencer will run another Cool Wool promotion across menswear and womenswear. For menswear, the retailer will utilise The Woolmark Company’s ‘sheep in sunglasses’ campaign swing ticket which will go on worsted tailored product. For womenswear, the company will use the Cool Wool sub-brand logo on their own design swing tickets to go on lightweight worsted knitwear.