Marks & Spencer launched its ‘Your Beauty: The Best of Science and Nature’ department in its Kensington High Street store last week.

The translation for this would be that the retailer has installed a 1,150 sq ft “here comes the science bit”-style beauty department on the store’s first floor, using the branch once more as a test-bed for new initiatives.  

Initial views are favourable, with a mix of science lab inspired mid-shop fixtures coupled with wood treatments for the perimeter modules. All of the mid-shop units are individually lit at shelf-edge level, while the wall has backlit pigeonholes and light-boxes to ensure shoppers pay it due attention.

There is also the matter of the stock, which by its very nature is small and therefore needs careful merchandising if the requisite glamour and pseudo-scientific aura is to be imparted. The fact that the mid-shop units are curved certainly helps to provide interest and the use of brand graphics along the perimeter contributes in this respect. The stock itself is a mix of own-brand and branded merchandise, although the latter are names that will probably be unknown to many in the UK.

What really sets this one apart, however, is its location. It’s positioned so that it’s the first thing you see, and nothing else, as you arrive at the top of the escalator, giving it prime position on this level. And in spite of the fact that one of the two High Street Ken windows has been devoted to promoting the new space, it is unexpected and provides real drama.

The next Your Beauty department is to launch on June 14 in Westfield Stratford and at 2,700 sq ft will be more than twice the size of this pilot, principally because more space is readily available in the mall store.