The UK womenswear market is entering a new cycle with major opportunities for new entrants says Verdict Research in its latest report.
The shakeout of weaker operators and a focus on value has changed the nature of the market since the millennium, but the ubiquity of the leading operators on the high street and women’s appetite for more aspirational and exclusive product is leading to greater opportunities for new entrants.
Since the millennium the UK clothing market, and in particular womenswear, has undergone significant changes.
Weaker operators including some of the leading traditional mass market operators such as C&A, Littlewoods and Allders have exited, while former leaders, such as Bhs and Matalan, have seen declining market share.
This has led to the consolidation of the market into fewer, and more dynamic operators’ hands.
Indeed Verdict predicts the Top 10 market leaders will take £1.00 out of every £2.00 spent in the £18.9bn womenswear market in 2007.
Their growing power means half of all womenswear expenditure is going through these 10 businesses and even though three of these leaders are multi-brand groups the total number of fascia is only 20.
Top 10 womenwear retailers by market share 2007 (forecast) Vs 2000
| || 2000 || 2007 (forecast)|
| 1.|| Marks & Spencer||Marks & Spencer|
| 2.|| Arcadia||Arcadia|
| 4.|| Debenhams||Primark|
| 5.|| New Look||Mosaic Fashions|
| 6.|| Bhs||Debenhams |
| 7.|| George (Asda)||New Look|
| 8.|| House of Fraser||George (Asda) |
| 9.|| Matalan||Peacock Group|
| 10.|| C&A|| TK Maxx|
Source: Verdict Research
V E R D I C T
The shakeout of weaker operators and the expansion programmes of the leading retailers is not only creating greater competition amongst them, but also leading to uniformity on the high street and predictability for female shoppers.
Despite the presence of five value-led operators in the Top 10, price is no longer the defining factor for success.
Value is available at every level of the market as retailers have repositioned their price architectures downwards. Now consumers expect more than a value proposition to be persuaded to buy.
The ubiquity of the top players is fuelling consumer desire for greater variety and producing opportunities for new entrants, even independents.
Retailers need to encourage trading up to higher price points to protect profits and margins in the face of rising costs.
With consumers having an appetite for more aspirational product retailers are developing premium ranges positioned at the top end of their price architectures, but this trend also demonstrates there is an opportunity for new entrants at the premium end of the market.
The shakeout of weaker operators has produced space in the market, not just positioning gaps in the market, but also in vacated space.
There is also plenty of new space coming on stream from new shopping centre developments which will provide room for new entrants and give existing retailers the opportunity to trade from the most productive new locations.
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