NEWS1 December 2022

M&S buys AI personalisation technology

AI M&A News Retail Technology UK

UK – Retailer Marks and Spencer has acquired the intellectual property of personalised fashion app Thread, with plans to integrate the technology into its data and digital function. 

Thread personalised fashion app

The acquisition will allow M&S to add Thread’s technology and algorithms into its M& online platform.

Founded in 2012, the Thread service offered users personalised fashion suggestions based on an artificial intelligence algorithm that built understanding of preferences over time, in combination with information from human stylists.

M&S will appoint 30 of Thread’s former data scientists and software engineers, including founders Kieran O’Neil and Ben Phillips, forming a new ‘personalised discovery team’ within the data and digital function.

Through the deal, M&S is aiming to speed up its ability to personalise its clothing offer to customers on its website. The move is part of the retailer’s investment in digital and customer data over the last three years, which has included a bigger focus on personalisation, including tailored offers and language and repeat purchase recommendations.  

Katie Bickerstaffe, co-chief executive, Marks & Spencer, described the move as a “‘buy not build’ approach”.

M&S is acquiring the intellectual property, including the source code and algorithms developed by Thread. Financial details were not disclosed.

Bickerstaffe said: “We have been working hard to deliver better, more stylish ranges and this algorithm will also put more of our product in front of the customer, while further unlocking the potential of our third-party brand strategy, by adding outfit completing product ideas.”