Toy market news

‘Brands at M&S’ launches FAO Schwarz on M&S.com and in selected stores in time for festive season

M&S is launching FAO Schwarz (famed for unique toys, life-sized plushes and interactive experiences) in 20 stores across the UK and on M&S.com. A bespoke offer of around 50 bestselling products has been selected for M&S customers including toy racing cars, music mats, craft kits and adorable plush toys.

The launch comes during the busiest festive shopping month with around half of M&S customers expecting to finish their gift purchasing by the end of November.

In-store offer

The M&S store openings are the first time the heritage toy brand has been available on local UK High Streets, with locations from Cardiff to Cheltenham included in the store roll out*. The FAO shops will be trialled next to the magical M&S gift shops and located within M&S Kids product areas. As the retailer continues to focus on offering families a great shopping experience, an experiential approach is being tested with magicians set to perform at two of the biggest stores (Stratford and Bluewater) every weekend in December to surprise and delight customers.

‘Brands at M&S’ Strategy

This latest brand addition is part of the ‘Brands at M&S’ strategy under the retailer’s MS2 division. It aims to curate a platform of brands that are relevant for the M&S customer and offer them more reasons to shop more frequently on M&S.com with over 30 brands already live. The strategy includes offering a wider selection within the retailer’s core categories - from White Stuff jeans to FatFace tees - but also introducing complementary categories where the retailer doesn’t have a full offer – such as kids’ toys and stationery. Having this breadth of range is crucial for growth, with over 30% of M&S customers planning to purchase toys this Christmas.

Toys have already proved a popular new product option for M&S customers, for example 64% of orders for an Early Learning Centre product (which landed on the site last year) also include at least one product from another M&S department. Similarly, kids’ favourite brand Smiggle has been delighting customers’ little ones since the Back-to-School season, with a compelling offer online and in eight stores – this has been boosted for the festive gifting season to include the famous Smiggle advent calendar.

Neil Harrison, Director of Brands at M&S said, “Our brands strategy is all about giving customers even more reasons to shop with M&S – and that includes being more relevant, more often throughout the important festive season. At Christmas we want M&S to be the place customers turn to for great value stylish clothing, quality food and importantly special & different gifting – and a leading toy brand such as FAO Schwarz supports that mission, bringing a little extra magic to the M&S offer. Through M&S.com and our 20 UK locations customers can shop an exciting range of FAO’s best toys and we can’t wait to hear their feedback.”

Mark Handley, CEO Redlands Distribution, exclusive distributor of FAO Schwarz in the UK, adds, “We are delighted to be partnering with M&S this festive season and excited to see the iconic FAO Schwarz toy brand come to life in their stores. With so many wonderful, nostalgic, and one-of-a-kind toys to inspire M&S customers, it is certainly going to be a magical time to shop for special gifts for children this Christmas.”

The full range of FAO is available for customers across the UK on M&S.com with click & collect available at over 700 M&S locations, including food only stores.

The 50 options will be a mix of FAO Schwarz, Discovery, Discovery #Mindblown and Sharper Image products

*Argyle Street, Banbury Gateway, Bluewater, Cardiff, Cheshire Oaks, Cheltenham, Leeds,  Liverpool, Longbridge, Merryhill, Metro, Newcastle, Plymouth, Pudsey, Southampton West Quays,    Stratford, Thurrock, Watford, White City and  Wolstanton Stoke