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Mintel’s Month in Retail highlights the stories that have made headlines in the European retail markets over the past four weeks, with exclusive analysis from Mintel’s expert retail team on potential implications.

UK: John Lewis to extend trial of tradesman service

John Lewis’ tradesmen service programme, Home Solutions, is set to expand to six other cities as part of the next trial phase. Home Solutions lets customers book various John Lewis-approved tradespeople online, such as plumbers, gardeners and electricians, in order to help them install John Lewis products in their home.

“Mintel’s Marketing to Men UK 2017 report found that almost half of 25-34 year olds think that home improvement projects are best left to the professionals. This lack of confidence means that younger generations are much more likely to call in a professional, but it can be difficult to know who to trust. John Lewis is leveraging its reputation to give its customers the confidence to spend on their homes, safe in the knowledge that a reliable tradesperson will carry out the work.”

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International: Amazon launches campaign for own-brand fashion label

Amazon has formally launched its first UK own-brand fashion label, Find. Whilst the products have been available since April 2017 for UK Amazon Prime customers, it is only now that the full range of clothes, 500 items of womenswear and 200 pieces of menswear, has been released to non-Prime users in the UK.

“It will take time for Amazon to establish itself as a trusted fashion brand in the UK, but its level of innovation, with the launch of Prime services such as try before you buy and its digital stylist device Echo Look, mean it has the potential to become a disruptor in the fashion market.”

UK: Asos launches own-brand beauty range

Online fashion and beauty store Asos has launched its own beauty line, called Asos Make-Up. The 46-piece range featuring lipstick, contouring palettes, eyeshadows and bronzers will be priced £5 – £12. Asos is also working with Snapchat on a special lens that will allow customers to recreate some of the looks from the “Go Play” advertising campaign that will be launched alongside it.

“The move is a natural extension of the brand and is likely to resonate with Asos’ young customer base. However, without a store presence, it could be difficult to attract buyers. Whilst research for Mintel’s Beauty Retailing UK 2017 found that 28% of 16-24s have bought beauty online in the last year, just 3% have done so at a clothing specialist. Meanwhile, research for the same report found that more than half of beauty consumers like to browse and test new products in-store. However, continued innovation by Asos in the Beauty and Personal Care market, including the trials with an augmented reality beauty app, will help drive interest in its own-label.”

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International: eBay promotes physical media

Online retailer eBay has rolled out a dedicated section of its online marketplace called The Entertainment Shop, focusing on the popularity of physical media such as vinyl records, retro video games and comic books. According to eBay, eight million searches for vinyl records were made by shoppers on its online marketplace in the year ending July 2017, at an average of two records sold per minute.

“In a highly digitised world, we have seen some consumers reinstate the value they place on physical goods. This is particularly true of physical entertainment with an emotional or collectible attachment to them. Indeed, Mintel’s Books and e-Books UK 2017 report found that four in five book buyers prefer to buy the print versions of books they are very interested in. eBay has long taken advantage of this desire for physical, often rare products, and collating them into one area is a logical move.”

UK: Sainsbury’s launches suit range

Tu, Sainsbury’s clothing brand, have launched a 29-piece formal range including two- and three- piece suits, patterned shirts and jackets. Tu Formal is being rolled out across 250 stores and online, with prices ranging from £6 for ties to £130 for a tweed jacket. According to Sainsbury’s, it is the first supermarket fashion range to make suits with UK produced fabrics.

“There has been an ongoing shift in the clothing market, with people moving away from the specialists towards those offering better value for money. Sainsbury’s has been continuing to strengthen its offer and this latest move confirms the retailer’s strategy to differentiate itself from its supermarket competitors.”

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Netherlands: HEMA removes gender labels from children’s clothing

Dutch chain HEMA is the first retailer in the Netherlands to remove gender labels from its children’s clothing, after increasingly receiving complaints about the division.

“Gender stereotyping is a major conversation in the childrenswear market at present. Whilst HEMA’s move has faced criticism, it’s a well-considered decision, as it addresses the stereotyping issue whilst still giving parents a choice to buy traditional clothing. Mintel Childrenswear UK 2017 research found that one in five childrenswear consumers would like retailers to offer more gender neutral clothing. As the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority also pledged to eliminate gender stereotypes in ads earlier this year, there will be pressure on retailers to change their messaging when advertising childrens’ products and this will go beyond clothing, moving into other categories such as toys and greetings cards.”