The Sports Edit will also help provide valuable learning opportunities for M&S as it further grows its ‘Brands at M&S’ platform, the retailer says.

While the financial details of the investment were not disclosed, the terms of the deal mean M&S will eventually own 100% of the brand.

The Sports Edit was founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Nick Paulson-Ellis who has grown the business by concentrating on bespoke brand curation across activewear. The platform offers an extensive range of carefully selected customer favourites, alongside emerging boutique brands. 

Paulson-Ellis will continue to run the company independently as CEO and will be supported to grow by M&S’s investment and access to infrastructure and capabilities. 

M&S says the investments underlines its strategic focus on activewear, a market now worth almost GBP900m, according to Kantar Worldpanel. As part of its efforts, M&S has grown its activewear brand Goodmove to be its biggest in-house womenswear brand in two years.

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The retailer says it has identified The Sports Edit as a “complementary e-commerce platform well positioned in the growing activewear market”, in part due to its highly engaged customer base. 

It adds The Sports Edit has a proven capability in brand curation and emerging brand identification, both of which will provide valuable learning opportunities for M&S as it further grows the ‘Brands at M&S’ platform. 

As part of its brands strategy, M&S is utilising a range of models including wholesale agreements, exclusive collaborations and investments (including its minority stake in Nobody’s Child) and seed funding for small brands via the True Fund. The Brands strategy also includes selected acquisitions such as Jaeger and now The Sports Edit. 

Developing the ‘Brands at M&S’ platform is just one example of how we’re shaping the future of M&S. Investing in digital and growing brands is an important way to explore growth categories and ultimately build our offer so we’re relevant for our broad customer base in the future,” says Katie Bickerstaffe, COO at M&S. “Nick has created a brilliant activewear business and will continue to operate ‘The Sports Edit’ independently supported by this investment to scale and grow.”

Paulson-Ellis, CEO and founder at The Sports Edit, believes with M&S’ support and resources, The Sports Edit can accelerate the development of its customer proposition, alongside the launch of its own brand activewear offering.

“Together we will build a highly differentiated proposition in activewear, and do so at scale”, he says.