Interest renewed after strong sales
Marks & Spencer is to resurrect its failed attempts to crack the homewares market with a standalone stores trial after sales of homewares ranges jumped 10.5 per cent in the six months to April 1.

Britain's biggest department store group is to press ahead with the pilot, despite getting its fingers badly burned when its previous Lifestore format collapsed, reported The Times.

It is understood that, although the strategy has yet to be formally approved by chief executive Stuart Rose, the company has been encouraged by recent sales in its existing stores but wants more space to display its ranges.

The paper says that M&S spent the past week looking at sites for up to four stores of between 15,000 sq ft and 20,000 sq ft (1,0395 sq m and 1,860 sq m) on retail parks around the country.

M&S's previous foray into standalone homewares stores was famous for a 150,000 sq ft (13,935 sq m) out-of-town store near Gateshead, where former Selfridges boss Vittorio Radice spent millions trying to sell expensive modern furniture.

The venture ended with the sale of two Lifestores to Danish furniture retailer Ilva.

Goldman Sachs welcomed the move and said that it expected the stores to 'be a lot cheaper and better suited to the core M&S customer than the previous standalone M&S homewares stores'.

The broker added that it believed M&S's revenue growth potential had been underestimated by the market, because it now had 'a stronger product offer, better buying and stock control'.