How budget brands beat Boden and M&S as retailers come in bottom two in 'value for money' survey

Louise Eccles


21:56 GMT, 1 July 2012



21:56 GMT, 1 July 2012

They are brands that want to dress Middle Britain and stand as a byword for quality. But it seems Boden and M&S are lagging behind the high street’s budget upstarts.

The fashion retailers came in last and second last – behind value labels and supermarket clothing ranges – in a survey of ‘value for money’.

In a blind test of seven retailers, Primark was voted best value for money, followed by Tesco’s F+F, Sainsbury’s Tu, H&M, Next, M&S and Boden.

Boden and Primark

Boden and Primark

M&S was voted better at ‘design
and quality’, coming joint second with Primark while Next was voted the
best. Boden came third, followed by Tu, H&M and F+F.

Neil Mason, of retail analysts Mintel, said: ‘Consumers are being a lot more savvy and choosy.

‘They are looking for great value for money and looking closely at getting the balance right between quality and price.’

The study, which was conducted by GfK, shows that more expensive clothing does not always mean better quality.

GfK interviewed 82 people for 30 minutes each at two shopping centres in west London and Nottingham last month.

were shown five items of clothing – with the labels removed – from each
of the retailers and asked to rate them for quality and design and
value for money. Only 20 per cent thought the Boden clothing warranted
its price tag and only 41 per cent thought the same about M&S, the
UK’s leading clothing store for many years.

Measuring up: Marks & Spencer

Measuring up: H&M

Measuring up: In a blind test, H&M (right) was voted better value for money than M&S (left)

By comparison, 88 per cent believed the Primark pieces were worth the price.

Tesco’s F+F range received conflicting feedback, coming bottom for quality but second for value for money.

Its combat trousers were voted the worst by a long stretch, while its polo shirt was joint bottom with that of Sainsbury’s Tu. Marks & Spencer said it offered customers ‘great value without compromising quality’.

Sainsbury’s said consumers ‘vote with their feet’ and that industry data showed Tu was outstripping its competitors.

The victory for cheaper clothing will come as a blow for Boden.

Set up by Old Etonian Johnnie Boden in 1991, its brightly patterned designs became a hit with the ‘yummy mummy set’.

But earlier this year critics branded the range – which is a favourite of Samantha Cameron and Michelle Obama – as ‘smug’ and ‘twee’.

Commenters on parenting site Mumsnet criticised the label for its ‘samey prints’ and ‘expensive clothing’. And others said its prices were out of touch as customers worried about the recession.

A Boden spokesman said its own poll of 8,000 customers, conducted last week, found 91 per cent rated its quality ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, while their ‘rigorous tests’ showed they consistently did well on quality and price.

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