Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne on Transformation at M&S

The executive director of marketing and business development for British retailer Marks and Spencer noted that beauty is at the core of that transformation.

For Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, metamorphosis is a magic word.

This story first appeared in the May 23, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Bousquet-Chavanne, who is executive director of marketing and business development for British retailer Marks and Spencer Group plc, noted that transformation is “probably one of the most important journeys M&S has ever embarked upon.” And beauty, he said, is at the core of that transformation.

“We have a commitment to impact the business, secure a consumer base and evolve our brand name with a global footprint around the world,” said Bousquet-Chavanne. “Back in 2010, M&S was essentially a traditional U.K. high-street retailer who exported products around the world. Today, our business strategy states a clear plan to reduce our dependency on the U.K. Our vision is to become a truly international multichannel retailer with scale and authority in the country in which we trade. We opened 200 new stores over the last couple of years and we are well on our way to opening another 250 stores by 2017 internationally.”

While the retailer operates more than 800 stores in its home territory of the U.K., one of its strongest focuses is international expansion. “We have a strong focus on the emerging markets and on Western Europe as well,” said Bousquet-Chavanne. “We opened 39 stores in India over the last couple of years while we’re growing at 42 percent. We opened 15 stores in Shanghai where we are growing at about 18 percent. And we opened 40 stores in Russia, timing is everything in life, and we are growing at about 8 percent. Most importantly we are adapting our product offer in women’s wear, men’s wear, accessories and beauty to those dedicated locations. We are committed to modernizing the brand in a dramatic way,” he said, ticking off the food hall, home department, fashion destination and the beauty universe. “And it is for me the combination of all these departments that will create a very exciting new world, a new multichannel world, where the consumers can clearly shop their way, integrating new technologies and obviously digital”

According to Google, 52 percent of searches for women’s clothing is now done by a mobile device, overtaking desktop for the first time in just one year, said Bousquet-Chavanne, adding that beauty is already at 36 percent. “Consumers are increasingly seeing online as a place for entertainment and browsing and learning,” said Bousquet-Chavanne. “You cannot go on that transformation journey without bringing new talent and people that come from the digital world as well as the publishing world. When you look at our new Web site, basically content is king and conversation is happening every day. Beauty is the content-hungry category. We’re getting a phenomenal response to the consumers’ engagement across every single topic that we obviously program for them on a weekly and daily basis. And it is all about providing solutions, tips and engaging that conversation.”