M&S unveils kidswear revamp

Troubled retailer Marks & Spencer is gearing up for a massive push in childrenswear this autumn, following years of declining sales.

The retailer announced on Monday that chairman Luc Vandevelde would step down amid a storm of criticism about M&S's performance.

Childrenswear director Anthony Thompson, appointed last August, said the drive will include a 25 per cent increase in the range's size compared with last autumn, supported by price cuts.

Childrenswear prices will be cut by between 5 and 8 per cent across the board compared with two years ago. Cuts on core ranges will be as much as 50 per cent, with school sweatshirts selling at£5 compared with£10 previously.

M&S's childrenswear market share fell to 5.4 per cent in the 52 weeks to April 4, compared with more than 7 per cent two years ago, according to FashionTrak data.

Thompson said: 'Expect to see improvements (in sales) in the next two or three seasons.' An increase in direct sourcing from 'zero' two years ago to 55 or 60 per cent now would catalyse change.

M&S head of strategic sourcing Nick Bullock said direct buying has been introduced to deliver 'better pricing' and 'access to design innovation very rapidly'.

M&S unveiled its autumn collection on Tuesday, with a focus on tweed, a new, younger-look lingerie collection and under-arm ventilated suits.

- Who next for M&S? page 3.