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UK's M&S seeks to turbocharge online sales with guest clothes brands

* M&S to offer Hobbs, White Stuff and Sloggi brands online

* New brands aim to broaden appeal of clothing business

* Clothing sales have been hammered by lockdowns

LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) - Britain’s Marks & Spencer said on Thursday it would launch a wave of guest clothing brands on its website this spring, including Hobbs, White Stuff, Joules and Sloggi, in bid to accelerate online growth.

The UK’s clothing sector has been hammered by COVID-19 lockdowns, forcing retailers to rely on online channels.

M&S Chief Executive Steve Rowe said last year the group, still Britain’s biggest clothing retailer by value, was shifting strategy and would sell other brands to broaden its appeal.

In September, it partnered online with Nobody’s Child and has also collaborated with Early Learning Centre. In January, M&S purchased the Jaeger brand.

It said other brands coming online through March, April and May would be: Phase Eight, Sosandar, Triumph, JACK & JONES, Seasalt Cornwall, Y.A.S. and SELECTED HOMME/SELECTED FEMME.

The first wave of guest brands would be marketed and sold under the banner “Brands at M&S”.

M&S said nearly 10% of customers who have purchased Nobody’s Child women’s clothes were new to M&S womenswear.

The new brands would be available in stores in future, it said.

When the pandemic hit, M&S was in the middle of its latest plan to improve its fortunes, including cost cuts and store closures. Rowe said those measures would be accelerated.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Edmund Blair

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