British high street giant Marks & Spencer unveiled a partnership with the founder of household furnisher Habitat today as part of a move to modernise its Home department.
Influential British designer Sir Terence Conran, who opened the first Habitat store in Chelsea, London in 1964, will oversee the design of furniture, bedding, lighting and kitchenware in the “contemporary” section.
Sir Terence, 79, who is also well known for developing several London restaurants, will work alongside an M&S team on the Conran Exclusive Design collection.
M&S chief executive Marc Bolland, who took up the top role in May, is rolling out his strategic vision for the business, which involves dividing the Home department into classic, contemporary and design segments.
Dutchman Mr Bolland said: “I’ve long admired the work of Sir Terence – his name is synonymous with exquisite modern design and he was the natural choice of partner to help us create our contemporary homeware range.”
Sir Terence, father of fashion designer Jasper Conran, expanded Habitat into the Storehouse group in the mid-1980s but lost control of the company in 1990.
A graduate of Central St Martins College of Art and Design, some of his notable architecture and interior design work includes the conversion of Michelin House, in London, into a restaurant, and the regeneration of the Shad Thames area of the capital, near Tower Bridge.
Sir Terence said: “To work with M&S on this project is the opportunity of a lifetime. It gives us the chance to produce a truly democratic and British collection, something that I have been aiming to achieve all my working life.”
The collection will be available in store and online from September.
Mr Bolland’s strategic plan, revealed in November, involves a drive to place the chain’s own brand at the forefront of the vision for the business.
In clothing, as well as boosting its own brand, the company plans to invest in its sub-brands – such as womenswear ranges Per Una and Indigo Collection through improved marketing and clearer positioning in stores.
Mr Bolland also plans to strip back the non-M&S food lines on offer, but the company will increase the total food range from 7,000 to 8,000 lines.