It worked with George Davies when Marks & Spencer signed him up to create the Per Una fashion brand and now new broom at M&S Marc Bolland is trying to work some more of the old magic by signing veteran designer and entrepreneur Sir Terence Conran to inject some life into the store’s home furnishings business.
Conran launched his iconic Habitat homeware and home furnishing shops in the 1960s, introducing a compelling combination of trendy products at (fairly) cheap prices to the stuffy British high street. His career has since taken him into a brief reign at department store chain BHS (which merged with Habitat) and the construction of a sprawling restaurant empire.
M&S has tried to boost its home furnishing side before, launching a standalone Lifestore in Gateshead in 2004 under the direction of former Selfridge’s boss Vittorio Radice. This was supposed to be the start of a separate chain (a bit like Homebase which was then owned by Sainsbury’s) but was canned when Philip Green launched a takeover for the company and Stuart Rose moved in as CEO.
This latest venture looks like it will be situated in M&S’s existing stores and linked to its nascent online business, now run by former Tesco director Laura Wade-Gery.
Interestingly George Davies, who sold Per Una to M&S a few years ago, has recently re-appeared at Bolland’s old company Morrisons to launch a clothing brand for the supermarket chain.