Amazon is set to shake up the UK clothing retail scene by launching its own fashion label, according to industry reports.
Fashion magazine Drapers reported rumours that the Seattle-based giant is developing its own-label clothing, which could be launched as early as this spring.
Although it already sells clothes from third party suppliers in Britain, Amazon is said to have its eye on a slice of the UK’s clothing market, taking on businesses ranging from high street stalwarts, such as Marks & Spencer, to internet retailers Asos and Boohoo.
Amazon could launch its own UK fashion label, according to industry reports
The rumours are fuelled by Amazon’s recruitment of former Marks & Spencer big-hitters Frances Russell (ex-head of womenswear) and Karen Peacock (previously the high street chain’s head of design), as well as Primark’s menswear buying director, Glen George – who also once worked at Marks & Spencer.
Keely Stocker, Drapers’ Editor, said a mid-market range ‘could really appeal to the customer who has become slightly disenchanted with the current high street offer.’
She added: ‘If Amazon gets its own-label fashion product right, it will shake up the whole industry.’
High street stalwarts such as M&S and Next may have most to fear, if Amazon decides to target their customers rather than the heavily-saturated 18-to-34-year-old market.
Although taking on established industry players would not be easy, Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said the online giant has the power to ‘stir things up’.
He said: ‘Amazon is a very cash rich business and if they want to launch into a sector, they won’t do things by half.’
Earlier this month, Amazon announced profits of $749million for the final quarter of 2016 – a 55 per cent increase on the previous quarter. After years of prioritising growth over profits, this was its seventh consecutive profitable quarter.
However, the online giant may not get things all its own way in an intensely fragmented and competitive market.
Turning heads: Amazon’s entry into the UK’s clothing market would challenge online retailers like Boohoo (pictured) as well as high street brands such as Marks & Spencer.
Tom Gadsby, retail analyst at Liberum, said: ‘It takes a really long time to build a brand, even when you’re Amazon.’
Amazon does have fashion labels in the US, including formal menswear line Franklin Tailored and womenswear brand James & Erin.
In the UK, online fashion retailers such as ASOS and Boohoo have squeezed the market share of the big high street chains.
‘Amazon has seen how successful these pure online retailers have been over the last few years and are thinking they could compete in that area,’ said Mr Lim.
The new venture would continue Amazon’s remarkable growth from online bookseller to comprehensive and convenient one-stop shop.
In June last year, the company made its first foray into the UK grocery market, launching AmazonFresh in London. The service is now available across more than 200 postcodes, generating nervous glances from rivals Ocado and Tesco.
Last week, it was reported that Amazon is searching for shops in London to locate a checkout-free grocery chain. In parallel, it continues testing its Amazon Go store in Seattle, where sensors track customers and record items so people can buy goods without queuing at a till.
Liberum’s Adam Tomlinson reiterated: ‘When Amazon decide they want to do something in any space, it’s always a threat.’