UK store portfolio
This year our new store openings and extensions added 410,400 sq ft of new space. We opened a number of larger stores in retail parks, including Crystal Peaks, Peterborough, Milton Keynes, Ashton Moss and Newport. We also continued our modernisation programme, undertaking major updates in 19 stores this year including Camberley and our flagship Marble Arch store.
In August we opened Cheshire Oaks, our new 151,000 sq ft flagship store for the North West, second in size only to our Marble Arch store in London. Serving a catchment area of over 1.3 million people, it showcases the very best of M&S store design, multi-channel innovation, service and environmental standards under one roof.
With outstanding green credentials, Cheshire Oaks is also a true community store. We engaged with local groups right from the start; with educational site visits and a focus on local investment, we ensured key stakeholders remained informed of plans and progress throughout the build. The store created over 350 new jobs in the region and attracted over 21,000 visitors on opening day. The store has received excellent customer feedback.
New look stores
Last year we began the roll-out of our new store format, designed to make our stores easier to shop by improving navigation and making better use of space. Our new format features clearly defined areas to reflect the distinctive personalities of our clothing sub-brands and improved product presentation.
The format also brings elements of theatre to our Food Halls, such as artisan bakeries and delis, to reinforce our ‘speciality’ positioning and showcase our fresh food to its best advantage. This first phase has been rolled out to 337 UK stores. In the first half of the year we launched the second phase of this programme, including new look Beauty and Home departments. The new format is helping customers reappraise the M&S offer and these stores are performing ahead of the rest of the chain.
Service in store
Great service is an essential part of delivering an inspirational shopping experience and this year we continued to invest, with the launch of our new ‘In Touch’ programme (see People). Designed to provide employees with the knowledge and resources required to respond to our customers’ changing needs, the in-store training module has now been rolled out to all stores including Franchises and Outlets.
Our Mystery Shop programme has helped ensure we continue to deliver the very highest standards of service and this year’s scores remained high at 81%. However, as part of our aim to be more in touch with our customers, we decided to replace our monthly Mystery Shop programme with a more regular, in-depth customer satisfaction survey. Under this new format, one in every ten store customers is invited to take part in an online survey through their till receipt and incentivised by a prize draw. We are currently receiving over 12,000 responses every week.
Technology in stores
This year our business unit, store design and e-commerce teams collaborated to make our stores work harder and bring the M&S multi-channel experience to life in our stores.
Using the latest technology, we are offering improved convenience, more inspiration and greater choice. We now have a total of over 250 Browse and Order points across 82 stores – enabling customers to shop more of the M&S product catalogue. Stores are now equipped with around 1,500 iPads, enabling employees to offer a more personalised service and order products for customers on the spot – either for home or free-to-store delivery.