Britain's biggest clothing retailer, Marks and Spencer, has set a launch date for the first range created by its new children's venture.

The retailer announced on Tuesday that it was creating a joint venture company to design and supply children's wear to its stores. It is teaming up with one of its oldest suppliers, Northern Ireland manufacturer Desmond & Sons.

Under the agreement, the joint venture company will design and produce clothing patterns and prototype garments and then contract the manufacturing to M&S's existing children's wear suppliers.

Customers will see the first children's wear products from the new venture with M&S's 'Back to School' range in June 2002.

Desmond & Sons has been a supplier to M&S for 60 years. M&S says it chose Desmonds due to its excellent design and technical skills, as well as expertise as a global manufacturer.

Roger Holmes, M&S managing director of UK Retail said: "Children's wear is a complex, fast-growing market place that demands an innovative approach.

"By joining forces with Desmond & Sons, we are pulling together the skills and talents of retailer and supplier into a single organisation, to deliver more fashionable, high quality clothes, faster and more competitively to our childrenswear customers."

By Deborah Bowyer.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Kid Trends 2001 Report

The Under Five Crowd - 2001 Report Syndicated Study Of Pre-Schoolers & Mothers