British retailer heads to the heartland as sales boom
M&S is perceived as a more mature brand given that the average age of the brand’s consumer base in India is 36 years. That is surely not good news for a brand in a country where more than 50% of the population is under the age of 25. M&S does not sweat much over this, as it has a two-pronged strategy to keep its core audience and even GenZ equally engaged with the brand. While it does target working professionals for its workwear, its holiday collection (casual wear line) and premium brand Autograph helps it garner a much younger audience.
Expansion in India is a part of the British retailer’s conscious strategy to grow operations in India as the brand recall in India is way higher than some other emerging markets. The high street retailer has expanded its footprint in India from 36 stores in 2013 to 100 stores in 2023. Currently the British retailer’s footprint in India is spread across 1.1 million sq ft and aims to exit FY24 with 1.4 mnsq ft in total retail space.
M&S has survived the Covid storm and brutal lockdowns with its nimble footed response to customer needs. While more than two years of brutal lockdowns broke the backs of most, M&S has come out even stronger from the pandemic, with its store count touching 100 in October 2023. The milestone reflects the sustained financial growth the brand has seen in India and a strong commitment to the Indian market.
But it is not just the physical stores that have helped it earn a loyal customer base of 50 lakh customers in India. M&S online currently services 28,000 pincodes in India. At present, 23% revenues of M&S come from the online channel. And unlike many other brands, it does not use discounting as a mode to garner online sales.