As part its Never the Same Again programme outlined at its full year results in May, M&S is accelerating its transformation to create a store estate fit for the new world – with stores in the right locations, set up to serve customers trusted value products and supported by seamless digital technology.
The replacement of ageing M&S stores is well underway with the closure of over 50 legacy stores complete. The opening of the new Clothing & Food store at Nottingham Giltbrook* today is the latest major opening as part of the retailer’s store reshape.** Giltbrook Retail Park is easily accessible to family customers in both Derby & Nottingham and these two areas have a combined population of 750,000 people – the biggest population in the UK not served by an out-of-town M&S store. The shop will complement the main Nottingham City Centre store and has resulted in the closure of the off-pitch additional City Centre shop – with all colleagues redeploying.
This is M&S’s second major Clothing & Home opening this year following the retailers relocation from Rochdale High Street to Rochdale Riverside in April A third major Clothing & Home opening is taking place in Maidstone next month at Eclipse Retail Park.
Reshaping M&S’s store estate isn’t just about the right locations; it’s about using digital technology to create more efficient stores and deliver great customers service.
Seamlessly integrated with the M&S App
Customers in Nottingham Giltbrook will be able to use the updated M&S app (which is now better integrated with the M&S in-store experience) to access both Sparks (M&S’s relaunched digital loyalty scheme) and Mobile Pay Go (M&S’s checkout-free technology). M&S’s app has seen strong growth since March – with over one million downloads. Colleagues will be on hand to help customers download the app and each day the first week of opening one local Sparks customer will be gifted their entire shop for free.
Digital technology making shopping easier
Nottingham Giltbrook has been set up so digital technology makes it easier for customers to shop, for example customer wifi is available not only in M&S but in the wider Giltbrook Park. Seamlessly integrated with M&S.com, the Click & Collect desk is located on the ground floor next to the Foodhall offering convenience for customers doing their weekly food shop. The store team will use Honeywells (digital devices) to look up orders and quickly collect customers’ parcels. Additionally, through local digital communication, customers will be kept up to date about what’s new at the store and how the team is sparking change in the local community. Giltbrook is the very first M&S Clothing store to open with a Facebook page – the team’s “sneak peek” video was viewed by 20,000 customers ahead of opening.
Digitally connected with M&S’s support centre
With every single colleague recruited via Teams (Microsoft’s communication platform used across M&S) and using it to get to know their colleagues before opening, Teams will be integrated into how the Giltbrook team works from day one. Across M&S, use of Teams has quadrupled during this unprecedented time. Through Teams Giltbrook colleagues will be digitally connected to M&S’s Support Centre – able to quickly access relevant information on everything from new product launches to the latest promotions for customers.
As part of its accelerated transformation, M&S has a significantly renewed management team including Helen Milford who joined as Stores Director in June. Helen said, “The need for the right shaped store estate has only been accelerated by this unprecedented time. Whilst it’s a challenging environment to open in, major openings such as Nottingham Giltbrook demonstrate how we’re adapting our portfolio to serve customers how they want to be served – digitally connected and seamlessly integrated with the online journey for those who shop online and collect in store. As we relocate and open stores our focus will remain making sure we’re digitally connected, in the right location for our family shopper and offering trusted value across Clothing and Food.”
As well as being digitally connected, M&S Nottingham Giltbrook will open with an offering that is right for the retailer’s focus on offering trusted value for customers. In the Clothing department this means everyday style that is appropriate for the current consumer mindset, including strong casualwear ranges and the inclusion of categories such as Good Move (M&S’s activewear range) which has been popular during lockdown. The kidswear section will open with M&S’s always on 3 for 2 everyday clothing deal (already 20% of M&S’s kidswear sales) and 25% off all school uniforms – with trousers, shirts and pinafores expected to be the bestsellers.
For Food, the 11,000sq ft Foodhall takes learnings from M&S’s ‘test & learn’ renewal stores including Clapham and Hempstead Valley with striking designs and a family focus – it was designed with a trolley not a basket in mind. The store will stock every single bakery item M&S offers, as well as over 2000 chilled and nearly 3000 cupboard products. The frozen section is 35% bigger than that in an average M&S Foodhall with nearly 300 family friendly products – from frozen veg packs to frozen-yoghurt lollies – perfect for doing a full family food shop. Local products also complement the family-focused ranges including local beers and local stilton cheese.
Nottingham Giltbrook will open with a team of 125 colleagues led by Martin Kirkpatrick, a store manager with 14 years’ experience. Martin said, “Setting up a new store during this time hasn’t been easy – but it’s shown what great technology and amazing teamwork can achieve. Our focus will be showing our customers the great ranges we have with a real focus on everyday style and weekly family food shops. It’s a new store for the new normal and our team will be on hand to help everyone shop with confidence.”