Retailing of Childrens Clothing in the United Kingdom

The market for children's clothing (aged from 0-15 years) is growing strongly in britain (UK) (see Figure 1). Sales figures show that the children's clothing market grew by 5% in 2002 weighed against 2001, and there was a 10% growth in the two years from 2000-02.

Figure 1. Sales development in the United Kingdom's Children's clothing market

Source: Mintel

Despite market progress retail competition is very strong. The market for children's clothing is extremely demanding because it is highly segmented and sophisticated. For babies, parents make the purchase decision, but once children commence to enter this group where they can begin to take decisions for themselves things change. Children become a lot more mixed up in decision-making process in what they'll wear and which brands they want. Moreover, they are simply unwilling to buy in a shop which provides clothes for babies and toddlers. Anecdotal evidence shows that children as young as 5 or 6 are dictating the brands and styles that they want to wear. Young teenagers have a totally different outlook again. Generally, these are a lot more fashion mindful consumers, seeking out the right styles, brands and designs to develop their self-image.

Industry's key players

Generally, UK stores attempt to serve two major parts of the children's clothing market - the mass-market and specialised niches. In the mass-market for children's clothing, retailers pursing a low-cost strategy have widened faster than those stores chasing a broad-based differentiation strategy. UK suppliers seeking a low-cost strategy are the desires of Matalan, Asda and Tesco.

In particular, Asda and Tesco have significantly improved market share, through the combination of good styling of their clothes and low prices. Tesco is the UK's biggest supermarket chain and Europe's second major retailer, while USA dealer Wal-Mart, the most significant retailer in the world, possesses Asda. The financial investment necessary to enter the market was low for such large operations. These large functions have similar or better purchasing electric power than all the participants in the industry all together. Another advantages for these businesses is that they are already well-known to an incredible number of UK consumers for his or her service and product quality. Furthermore, these stores have other advantages such as their ability to draw in large customer quantities due to their grocery functions and convenient free airport parking.

Low-cost stores have put significant pressure on other mass-market suppliers such as Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Uk Home Stores (Bhs). These suppliers are major companies who sell an array of goods, not merely clothing, through a wide network of stores in the united kingdom. They may be few in amounts and offer similar levels of quality and costs. Famous brands M&S and Bhs use a wide differentiation strategy based on strong branding, good quality clothes and price their goods throughout the industry average. So that they can keep their costs down they continually look around to discover the best and cheapest sources of supply. A couple of relatively few UK manufacturers of children's clothing, so most get there from abroad. Turkey, Eastern European countries and china and taiwan dominate the way to obtain children's clothing to the united kingdom.

One mass-market store who continues to perform highly is Next. Next is one of the most profitable clothing companies in britain and one of the country's leading children's clothing sellers. Next dominates not only the mass-market however the children's clothing market as a whole. Next is regarded by many consumers as a reliable and reliable retail company. Despite greater than average industry prices in the mass-market, Next appeals to a wide customer audience, both better-off and price-sensitive customers, because of its strong reputation and the product quality and styling of its clothing. The business has were able to section its children's clothing so older children are given significantly different designs and styles from the infant and toddler ranges. Next in addition has built strong associations with suppliers and looks to replenish merchandise rapidly and proficiently. Despite facing powerful competition from other stores Next will probably remain the main UK children's clothing retailer for the foreseeable future.

At the superior end of the children's clothing market impartial vendors dominate. The more successful independent stores specialise in offering the most attractive brand labels such as DKNY, Diesel, Burberry and Dior. They have a tendency to focus exclusively on providing designer clothes for only one or two segments of the children's clothing market e. g. , infants, small children, pre-teens and young teenagers. The vast majority of independent vendors only operate one store, they are usually owner-operated, and focus on surpassing other merchants through personal service. Most are not necessarily right at the very top end of the design level but are relatively expensive compared

with mass-market children's clothing. You will find between about 3, 000 and 3, 500 unbiased children clothing sellers in the UK.

Being an unbiased merchant is not in itself a guarantee for success. Some independents attempt to serve too many sections in the children's market and, therefore, battle to build a clear individuality. Some suppliers can be quite dictatorial in their needs on independent suppliers and often insist that they have a certain amount of stock from them. Because of these needs from suppliers, independents often run the danger of being over stocked with goods. This may mean that independents need to provide substantial discounts at the end of the season to clear old stock with a consequent drop in profitability.

Required:

Discuss the competitive conditions in the United Kingdom children's clothing market.

(50 grades)

(b) What impact have cost-strategy suppliers such as Matalan, Asda and Tesco possessed on other children's clothing retailers in the United Kingdom market?

(20 marks)

(c) Discuss the value of mission claims and targets to the proper planning process?

(30 markings)

Total 100 marks

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