Lingerie and Beauty are categories which the UK retailer is leveraging upon to take its customer engagement up in India. Venu Nair, Managing Director, Marks & Spencer Reliance India shares insights on the new business in an exclusive interview with images bof. By Gurbir Singh Gulati
Marks and Spencer (M&S), a major British multinational retailer has recently added a new dimension to its business by starting its Lingerie & Beauty stores in India.
The standalone M&S Lingerie & Beauty store brings the very best of their product range to the customers. The company offers high quality, stylish and innovative lingerie which includes an extensive breadth of lingerie styles, shapes and sizes. They also retail clever lingerie innovations that enable their customers to look and feel their best. In the beauty category, they offer the very best of nature and science with improved beauty products.
Excerpts from the Interview
What was the idea behind creating an individual identity with lingerie and beauty as a category?
Venu Nair (VN): The move to open Marks & Spencer Lingerie & Beauty stores is a part of our ongoing strategy to become a leading international, multi-channel retailer and build on our established position as the UK’s number one lingerie brand and the increase demand for our lingerie and beauty products abroad. The format capitalizes on the growth opportunities in the lingerie and beauty markets in India, where we’ve already seen a huge demand for these products.
The smaller store footprint also enables us to access key positions in India’s leading shopping malls, helping M&S to accelerate its growth in the market and takes our customer engagement to another level.
When did you take the first steps of starting M&S Lingerie and Beauty internationally and what how has been the journey?
VN: India was the second country to open an M&S Lingerie & Beauty store following Saudi Arabia. Currently, there is one M&S Lingerie & Beauty store in India and two Lingerie & Beauty Departments in our flagship stores in Delhi and Mumbai.
In your opinion, what defines the lingerie & beauty shopping experience? Could you describe some of your store’s aesthetics that set you apart from others? What makes the format special?
VN: Our inviting and inspiring store design and services set us apart from the competition. The unique differentiators for us are our lingerie collections and bra fitting service given by our specially trained customer assistants.
The shopping environment of our stores is very inspiring, sophisticated and modern in addition to the feminine, glamorous finishing touches – fresh flowers, wooden hangers, bespoke bags and tissue wrapping. Also, our extensive breadth of lingerie styles, shapes and sizes sets us apart from the competition.
Fit is a very important aspect; tell us about your study of Indian body types to get this right?
VN: M&S internationally has done a lot of research on fits and offers one of the broadest size ranges, with bra sizes from 30B to 44GG, whilst knickers start from size 6 up to size 24. There is also a wide choice of lingerie styles, from everyday t-shirt bras, to clever underwear solutions such as no visible panty lines or maternity bras, as well as glamorous silk and lace pieces. Marks & Spencer is also well known for its lingerie innovations and with the new stand alone concept stores; it will include a broad selection of these market leading innovations.
We believe that our extensive offering meets the requirements of the Indian customer. Also, our range offers every woman the opportunity enjoy the product that fits her perfectly, which in turn ensures that she is able to be comfortable all day. Moreover, M&S has almost twice the number of sizes compared to competition.
Tell us about your product portfolio and the special collections or lines on display? Spring summer 2015 is here. Please give us details about the new styles, colours, fits, fabric, themes etc.?
VN: We’re showcasing the very best of our trend-led design and fashion credentials. The summer lingerie collection includes 450 lines of the latest lingerie, sleepwear and hosiery, offering a comprehensive range of beautiful lingerie sets, smoothing and slimming shapewear, hosiery for every occasion and stylish sleepwear. Marks & Spencer lingerie represents outstanding design and quality at excellent value. With a comprehensive size range, from 30 A to 46 GG and trained bra fit advisers in store; the Marks & Spencer lingerie offer is second to none.
The collection also includes the unique Rosie for Autograph lingerie and sleepwear collection, designed in collaboration with international supermodel and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
The collection includes nightwear, bras, knickers and lingerie sets made from beautiful French designed lace, sumptuous silk, fine cashmere and the softest silk chiffon in feminine prints and vintage inspired tones. Since its launch in 2012, it has been a very popular lingerie range. With new pieces introduced each season, a beautiful new rose print is always central to the seasonal update.
The high quality and design of Marks & Spencer lingerie is famed throughout the world. In the UK one in three women’s choose M&S bras. Renowned for market leading innovation and a unique approach to design, M&S garment designers work closely with technical teams to produce pieces that are as beautiful as they are practical, continually bringing new and unique product firsts to the collection such as sheer ladder resistant hosiery, memory foam bras that perfectly shape to the body and waist sculpt shapewear to create the perfect hourglass look.
How is M&S eyeing to win in the premium women’s intimate wear market?
VN: By offering an extensive choice of sizes from 30B to 44G and knickers and sleepwear from size 6 to 22.
Wide choice of lingerie styles – everyday i.e. t-shirt bras, solutions i.e. strapless, maternity, push up, pieces with silk, lace, embroidery.
Coordinated collections – Pieces can be mixed and matched, complementary colours and patterns across bras, knickers and vests.
Spring Summer 2015 Highlights
Waist sculpt: Waist sculpt is a range of lingerie garments developed using innovative bonding technology to ‘fake’ the hourglass figure. The bonding sits along the sculpting panels within the garment, allowing the fabric to be reinforced where required while keeping its original, light weight feel and smooth silhouette. This construction creates the perfect hourglass figure whilst being comfortable to wear.
Machine washable silk: The silk lingerie and sleepwear collections look great, feel amazing next to the skin and offer fuss free care. It does not require hand washing and all Marks & Spencer silk lingerie is machine washable.
Tummy control swimsuit: Marks & Spencer tummy control swimsuits are made from innovative fabric for all over light control and support. Designed with a hidden panel they not only make tummies appear flatter, but they shape the waistline too giving the ultimate hourglass figure.
Ladder resistant sheer hosiery: In 2007 Marks & Spencer introduced this exclusive range of tights. These super sheer tights are designed so that if a hole forms they will not ladder. They are made from revolutionary yarns sourced from Japan which, during production, melt slightly and form thousands of ‘mini joins’. When a yarn breaks, the fabric holds itself together and forms a small discreet hole, not an embarrassing ladder.
Cooling collection: In 2010 a ‘cooling’ collection was launched with the added benefit of cooling fabric technology which releases cooling bubbles with movement, leaving the skin feeling refreshed.