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"People are now turning to supermarkets for fashion"
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Nicole Thompson, She Magazine
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Sunday, 12 March, 2000, 14:21 GMT
M&S drops St Michael

Luc Vandevelde and Peter Salsbury - at the helm
Marks & Spencer says it is dropping its famous St Michael logo.

The struggling UK retail group says it will transform the logo into a consumer quality guarantee as part of a major overhaul of its image.

We are not losing St Michael - it is becoming our equivalent of the Woolmark or Kitemark.

M&S spokesman
The label brand will become the Marks & Spencer name as part of a new look to be unveiled next month.

M&S has undertaken an in-store transformation ranging from new shop fronts and staff uniforms to carrier bags and clothing lines, which is to be completed by the autumn.

As part of the reorganisation, the St Michael logo will be removed from the main label on products from sausages to socks and incorporated into the new quality guarantee to be found elsewhere on the packaging.

The 'St Michael Promise' will appear as a circular design on food and clothing packaging with wording inside the circle giving an explanation of the guarantee and a customer-service hotline number.

Familiar logo
A spokesman said: "Our customers were not clear on what was the main brand - Marks & Spencer or St Michael.

"We are very clear that the main brand is Marks & Spencer and that is what people identify with.

"But we are not losing St Michael - it is becoming our equivalent of the Woolmark or Kitemark. It will act as the guarantee of the quality of our products and the intrinsic values of the company."

The St Michael brand was invented in the 1920s when Simon Marks, the son of M&S co-founder Michael Marks, put it forward as a way of paying lasting tribute to his father.

Mr Marks started the company with partner Thomas Spencer at a Leeds market stall in 1884 before expanding into a huge clothing and grocery chain with stores across Britain and mainland Europe.

Distinctive brand

By 1928, St Michael had been registered as a trademark and rapidly became synonymous with the M&S name, appearing on clothing labels and food packaging alongside Marks & Spencer or alone.

But the plunge in profits for the previously unshakeable bastion of the British high street, sparked by a disastrous sales performance in the last half of 1998, has led to a radical rethink of strategy.

The announcement in January that Belgian Luc Vandevelde, 48, was to take over as chairman followed the early retirement last summer of the previous company chief, Sir Richard Greenbury.

He joins chief executive Peter Salsbury at the helm.

Mr Vandevelde, who headed French retail group Promodes, said at the time: "Most leading brands go through tough periods at some stage, but if they have fundamental strengths, they can come back with renewed force."

Bosses are hoping to regain the initiative with the in-store make-over and a series of new product lines in food and clothing, due to be formally unveiled to the media next month.

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See also:

11 Jan 00 | Business
M&S: A brand new challenge
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M&S bids for image revamp
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