Early Learning Centre to open in 10 M&S stores

Marks & Spencer has confirmed the arrival of Early Learning Centre ‘shop in shops’ in ten locations, providing a dedicated UK store presence for the early years toy specialist.

Opening at the end of March, customers will be able to visit Early Learning Centre in M&S stores across the UK including Kent, Longbridge and Liverpool. The openings come just in time for Easter, the second biggest peak in the retail calendar, where last year Brits spent £1.2billion.

The new dedicated areas will stock Early Learning Centre’s bestselling toys designed to support children’s learning and development. They will also be home to interactive play tables, complete with Happyland products and free activity sheets.

The partnership with Early Learning Centre is part of the ‘Brands at M&S’ strategy. The brand curation, which is predominately online, is a mix of complementary products and areas M&S doesn’t have an extensive own brand range – such as toys.

The store trial follows the launch of Early Learning Centre on M&S.com at the end of 2020 where the product offer has proved popular. The average online basket size for brands is more than twice the average for M&S.com and to date over 65% of orders for an Early Learning product include M&S Clothing.

“The customer response to Early Learning Centre on M&S.com over the past year has been incredibly positive,” commented Neil Harrison, director of brands at M&S. “We know a large proportion of our customers look to purchase kidswear and toys for family and friends. So, by bringing the Early Learning Centre brand – with fun and interactive experiences – to our stores, we’re able to give our 22m customers more reasons to shop with us.

“As Brands at M&S continues to gain momentum, this is just one example of how we are shaping the future of M&S, helping us become more relevant, more often to families.”

Mark Campbell, ceo of The Entertainer, added: “We are absolutely delighted to announce that we are extending our partnership with M&S into stores, continuing to unite two of the UK’s best loved brands. The fit between them is clear and we are sure that M&S customers will be thrilled to see Early Learning Centre in store.”

Early Learning Centre will open in ten stores across the UK: Bluewater, Stratford, Banbury Gateway, Cheshire Oaks, Lisburn, Thurrock, Metro Centre, Liverpool, Longbridge and Plymouth. The Early Learning Centre range will continue to be sold on M&S.com and will be available for next day delivery or Click & Collect to over 700 M&S locations.

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