MARKS & SPENCER SETS LINGERIE UNITS

Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — Marks & Spencer PLC Monday announced plans to launch another retail concept, as it continues to restructure in its turnaround effort.
The U.K.’s largest retailer said it will open three trial lingerie-only stores in continental Europe next month. The stores will be located in Paris, Hamburg and Dusseldorf and will be branded MSL.
The units will be about 1,600 to 2,000 square feet in size and will carry Marks & Spencer’s full women’s lingerie collection. About 75 percent of its merchandise will be similar to the retailer’s core lingerie collection, which is sold at its other stores, while the remaining 25 percent will be exclusive to MSL, a Marks & Spencer spokeswoman said.
All products will be branded Marks & Spencer, with the exclusive lines indicating in some way that they are unique to MSL, she added.
MSL is the latest move by Marks & Spencer to build on its expertise in lingerie. The retailer has about 30 percent of the British lingerie market. Over the last year, it has taken steps to expand this by investing in the British luxury lingerie Web site Splendour.com. It has also hooked up with the British designer lingerie company Agent Provocateur to help develop a line specifically for Marks & Spencer.
The MSL trial is likely to last at least six months, after which the retailer will decide whether to open more stores, the spokeswoman said, adding that the goal is to see the performance of the stores during a Christmas period as well as during normal trading. There currently are no plans to open MSL stores in the U.K., where Marks & Spencer’s 300 existing stores carry its lingerie.
MSL is the latest new format being developed by the retailer. The first Marks & Spencer factory outlet store will open in early November in Ashford, Kent. Two more stores will follow in November in Livingston, Scotland, and Cheshire Oaks, England.
Marks & Spencer also is rolling out its new concept for its department stores, with another five opening on Monday. This brings the total to 10.

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