Fashion retailer Coast has hired ex-M&S womenswear design director Neil Hendy as Kate Bostock lowers price to turn the busines around.
Hendy joins as creative director of Coast and will oversee everything from design to marketing to visual merchandising. Design director Kim Elliott will report to him.
Bostock, who was executive director for general merchandise at M&S for eight years, trialed price points about 20% lower before Christmas to reverse Coast’s double-digit sales decline. She said sales have returned to “single-digit growth” since the move was made and it has reduced the amount of markdown. “We’ve listened to customer feedback and the first they said is the product is a bit expensive,” Bostock said.
She has since made moves to “cost engineer” its products to preserve margin. This includes “harder price negotiation” and adding more suppliers to its roster.
Bostock, who has been in charge of Coast for six months, has also introduced more competitive entry points to woo customers, such as £35 tops and £75 dresses.
Coast is also seeking to broaden its product range to extend its appeal beyond special occasions. Bostock said: “We spoke to our customers and she still goes out a lot and still likes dressing up. We want to be front of mind when it comes to dressing up. We have a real opportunity for customers to buy four or five times a year from us, rather than once or twice.”
The retailer is introducing more separates, rather than the dresses it is famous for, and fewer formal dresses.
Coast has also hired Jess Wilks as global digital and strategic director. Wilks was formerly deputy managing director at Aurora, from which Coast is being spun out. Head of ecommerce Bianca Mercer will report to Wilks.It has also added a global remit to retail operations director Jo McWilliams’ role.
Coast is working with ecommerce consultancy Javelin to help propel its global online growth, which Bostock said was one of its biggest opportunities.