So, Marks & Spencer are opening up beauty sections within stores to contain brands other than their own. They’ve started at High Street Kensington in London and will roll out gradually over time and the sections will come complete with impartial beauty assistants and advisors who won’t do the hard sell. That is something to be welcomed; you can browse at your leisure and won’t get brow-beaten into leaving with something you aren’t entirely sure you want or need. 

The brands they are taking are, in my view, slightly hit and miss. The plus is that they’re bringing on Apivita which is a skin care range doing a roaring trade in other parts of the world and gets rave reviews. Also, a brand called H20, which is a mid-price skin care range that again, is popular overseas, and some specially commissioned fragrances from Lynn Harris (of Miller Harris fame).  There is also the welcome return of Comptoir Sud Pacific fragrances which left the UK ages ago and are a must-try (but they’re £49 a pop); they’re just stunning scents. It’s great that you’ll also be able to get Roget & Gallet – a fabulous brand that is just too hard to find at the moment.

The concept is nature and science, but I hope they don’t stick too rigidly to the idea; there is so much inbetween that is amazing and if they’re going to be rigid then they’ll miss some great opportunities. Brands such as Nuxe I feel quite blah about – it’s been around for a long, long time, and if I’m honest, I hoped to see some real excitement from the buying team – imagine if they’d got the BioDerma Crealine line for example; that’s a brand we’re crying out for here (and Mr BBB would be very happy not to have to lug it by the bucket load back from Paris) and to have it in wide distribution would have been fab. Another brand they’re taking is Dr Brandt – a great brand, but it’s very readily available so I don’t quite get the point of having it as part of a new line-up. Skyn Iceland will also be available – it’s been tried and tested in the UK several times and never managed to appeal enough to British women to stay. But, there is also the welcome return of Comptoir Sud Pacific fragrances which left the UK ages ago and are a must-try (but they’re £49 a pop); they’re just stunning scents.

I think this is entry into the mainstream beauty market is too safe, with too little to draw in new consumers who might not consider M&S as a stop-off point for serious beauty. It’s also a shame for new or hard to find brands who are desperate to work in a different way; they’re squeezed to the very limits by existing beauty retailers making it very hard to survive against big and more established brands. It would have been great for them to have somewhere that deals perhaps a little bit more ethically and fairly with would-be best sellers. 

However, the plus points are many – a non-pushy environment to really take your time over choosing your products, with help if you should like it or not if you prefer, a clear and unchaotic environment in which to shop (the floor design is excellent) and a chance to experiment with a few new beauty brands or stock up on favourites from existing lines. You can also see on-line what they have HERE.

Please let me know what you think on this one? Is it a hit or a miss in your view?

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