M&S ramps up marketing and shrugs off Asda surge

Beleaguered Marks & Spencer is kicking off a major marketing initiative as it dismisses market data showing it has been overtaken by Asda in clothing sales by volume.

The Your M&S campaign kicks off next Wednesday, and will include a month-long outdoor campaign and new point-of-sale material. The initiative is designed to provide an umbrella positioning for the retailer, simplifying the brand message and offer.

Meanwhile, according to FashionTrak, Asda edged ahead to win 9.4 per cent of market share by volume in the 12 weeks to July, up from 7.3 per cent last year. M&S's share remained static at 9.1 per cent.

One senior M&S insider said: 'The figures are open to interpretation. They don't take into account the strengths of a retailer's offer.'

Measured by value, M&S dwarfs Asda, with a market share of 10.3 per cent versus 3.3 per cent.

In a separate development, M&S has poached Helen Low, Asda's design general manager for George, as head of design for children's clothing.

Evolution analyst Nick Bubb believes next month should help M&S, because it thrives on sales of schoolwear and autumn clothing.

'All the work that Stuart Rose has been doing has been designed to improve marketing, merchandising and product plans for the autumn,' said Bubb.

He expects a 2 per cent hike in like-for-like sales during the second quarter.

- M&S is downplaying a strike ballot at a firm that moves its non-food products to regional distribution centres.

The retailer says it has 'contingencies' in place to ensure any industrial action at Joint Retail Logistics' base in Middleton, North Manchester, will not cause disruption.